Some 2.6 million people across 23 arid and semi-arid areas are in need of relief food, the government has said.

Of these, 623,000 are children and 69,000 pregnant and lactating mothers, who are at risk of malnutrition as drought ravages the regions.

Turkana is the worst affected, with 250,000 children aged under five in Turkana North, Turkana South and Laisamis sub-counties experiencing acute malnutrition, according to government spokesman Cyrus Oguna.

Another 200,000 in Turkana West and Turkana Central, Baringo, Tana River, Samburu and Moyale are facing critical malnutrition.

“Eight out of the 23 counties are severely affected by drought and require urgent enhanced relief food assistance. They include Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Tharaka-Nithi, Isiolo, Embu and Kitui,” said Mr Oguna.

Mr Oguna said the government had so far allocated Sh3.7 billion for drought response between September and December.

Out of the amount, Sh2.9 billion will be channelled to relief food and distribution of water and nutritional requirements to affected people.

Water distribution, repair of boreholes and procurement of spare parts for water pumping machines in strategic boreholes have cost the State Sh650 million so far, he said.

Maize, rice, beans, vegetable oil and supplements worth Sh1.7 million were distributed by the government between April and August, according to Mr Oguna.

The Ministry of Health conducted 644 integrated medical outreaches in the remote areas of nine of the affected counties in August.

School feeding programmes, water trucking to affected schools, fees subsidy and bursaries by the government are among strategies put in place to support the education sector, according to Mr Oguna.