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Northern Kenya faces hunger crisis as drought wipes out livestock

In a dry river bed in Kenya's arid northwest, pastoralists dig ever-deeper pits in an anxious search for water, as the region suffers its worst drought in 40 years, which has wiped out livestock and crops, deepening a hunger crisis.

The impact of hunger is etched on the faces of children filling the "stabilization room" for serious health problems of the Lodwar County and Referral Hospital in northwest Kenya.

"I have three grand-children who have been affected by hunger," said Agnes Ekereru, sitting on a bed with her four-year-old grandson Ekai Ebei. "All my livestock have died because of the drought."

Almost two million children in the Horn of Africa require urgent treatment for life-threatening severe acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF estimates.

The hunger problem is compounded by the war in Ukraine and the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has pushed up the price of cooking oil, bread and wheat flour to record highs at local markets, UNICEF says.

Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) say the drought has been caused by climate change and the La Niña weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean.

By Jefferson Kahinju

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