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Rains will delay, and the distribution will be poor-Meteo director

End of the current famine being experienced in Kitui County might not come anytime soon if the weather forecast information is anything to go by.

Kitui County Director of Meteorology Daniel Mbithi (pictured) says that both scientists and traditional forecasting systems agree that the October-December rains will be depressed, leading to worse drought situation. He advised farmers to plant drought resistant crops such as millet, cowpeas and sorghum saying the forecast rains will be too little to sustain maize and beans to maturity. MWINGI TIMES/John Musembi

Contemporary science experts and traditional weather forecasters have concurred that the imminent October to December rains will not only be depressed but will also be of little help to hunger stricken Kitui people.

The County director of meteorological services, Daniel Mbithi, said the Kitui County will only get rains for between 30 to 45 days which would be too little to grow crops to maturity.

The worrying news comes at a time when the Kitui County coordinator of National Drought Management Authority Francis Koma has disclosed that Kitui has slipped to early alarm drought state.

He said on Thursday that more than a quarter of the population of Kitui is acutely hunger stricken and needs humanitarian assistance.

“At the moment 340, 856 people in Kitui in a total population of 1,136,187 according to the 2019 Census are now in need of humanitarian assistance both in terms of food and water. The situation is really dire,” said Koma on phone.

At the same time the price of foodstuff has goon beyond the reach of many of the locals making many unable to put food on the table. The price of a Kilo of maize retails at KSh. 100 while that od beans go for KSh.150. A similar quantity cow peas go for KSh. 250 at retail outlets across the county.

Oncoming rains

Mbithi said comparative assessment of data from the meteorological department and the traditional forecasting systems show that the oncoming rains will be depressed thus spelling doom on the possibility of the county emerging from the current famine.

The weatherman spoke to the media on Wednesday during the first day of a two-day participatory scenario planning meeting that that brought together meteorologists, agricultural officers and farmers from 31 wards in Kitui. 

The sample farmers are supported through WFP and FAO funded Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme-Climate Resilient Agricultural Livelihood (KCEP-CRAL) Window. They were taken though the October-December rains forecast and how best to utilize the information. 

“We agreed that the rains will delay, and the distribution will be poor and lower than normal. That was the point of convergence between the scientists and the traditional weather forecasters,” said Mbithi. 

He said that it would be prudent for farmers to apply conservation agriculture in order to retain moisture once they receive rain through mulching. He said growing drought tolerant crops like green grams, cowpeas, millet and sorghum would be prudent. 

Mbithi added that only 10 wards out of 40 wards in Kitui County are forecasted to receive higher rains that would nurture to maturity early maturing varieties of maize and beans crops. He said in the rest of the county growing of maize and beans should be avoided.

The weatherman added the rains will be generally lower across the county from the normal rain by about 70 to 80 millimetres. He said the expected highest rainfall in any part of Kitui will be up to 434 millimetres while the lowest will be 176 millimetres of rainfall.


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