(Refiles to add dropped word in headline)
By George Obulutsa
NAIROBI Feb 14 Kenya is expected to receive
poor rainfall in the main March to May rainy season, the
meteorological office said, a situation which could exacerbate
an already acute drought.
Weather forecasts in Kenya, which largely depends on
rain-fed agriculture, are key in gauging inflation trends.
The Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) said in its long
rains (March-May) outlook that food growing areas of Western and
Nyanza would have near-normal rain.
"The expected poor temporal distribution of the seasonal
rainfall is, however, likely to negatively impact most
agricultural areas," KMD said in a statement.
The weather office said that agricultural areas in the
southeast of the country were expected to receive poor rains
during the period, as were parts of eastern and northern Kenya.
"Food security is expected to deteriorate over most parts of
the country and more so the northern areas of Kenya," KMD said.
"The poor rainfall performance expected over the Arid and
Semi-arid Lands (ASALs) will continue to impact negatively on
the livestock sector."
Kenya's inflation rate rose to 6.99 percent year-on-year in
January, up from 6.35 percent in December, partly due to drought
and a rise in the cost of electricity.
Last week, the government declared a national disaster and
appealed for aid to counter a drought that is posing a risk to
people, livestock and wildlife.
The Kenya Red Cross has estimated about 2.7 million people
need food aid after low rainfall in October and November.
Kenya is the world's leading exporter of black tea, making
it a major foreign exchange earner.
KMD also said that poor rains in the October to December
season had led to crop failure in most agricultural areas, lack
of pasture and reduction of water levels in Seven-Forks and
Turkwell hydroelectric dams.
(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Clement
Uwiringiyimana and Angus MacSwan)