Evaluation of the Nature of Drought Experienced in Makueni County, Kenya
Mutua, Lydia Nduku
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Drought events remain a major threat to lives and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) due to the high exposure and vulnerability of populations. In the last three decades, Kenya experienced high frequency of drought events. The frequency of drought is projected to increase in the future more so due to anthropogenic climate change whose impacts include erratic seasonal rainfall and increased frequency of extreme rainfall events such as drought. Droughts present extreme conditions of water scarcity which have adverse effects on the physical environment and water resource systems particularly for arid and semi arid regions. The design and implementation of drought mitigation and response strategies requires an understanding of the nature and impacts of drought. Previous mitigation measures have been done randomly without establishing the nature of drought , reason as to why drought in Makueni County whether major or minor has severe impacts on this community.Makueni County of, Kenya has suffered many severe and extreme drought conditions the nature and impacts of which have however remained unknown and undocumented. The objective of this study was to examine the nature of drought in Makueni over the last three decades. Secondary data comprising of rainfall records from Makindu, Mavindini and Kibwezi areas was used to compute a drought index. The standardised precipitation index SPI was used to identify the nature of drought occurring in the study area. The results revealed that Makueni County experienced three episodes of extreme meteorological droughts in the last three decades. In the same period, Hydrological drought persisted for over 8 years while over five extreme and severe Agricultural droughts were analysed in the study area. Though the drought conditions in the study area are pathetic, the residents of Makueni County seemingly did not fathom the nature of drought that they experienced. The findings of this study are anticipated to inform decision makers and development actors in Kenya, whose interest is to mitigate, and respond to drought on Kenyans lives, economy and development as a whole.