Once Immune, Kenya Hit Hard By Drought

(AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)
Kenya, a developed country with lush land and a typically robust economy, is being devastated by a deadly drought, the New York Times reports.

With green pastures drying up, the drought is killing crops and children. It is stoking tensions in water-deprived slums and spawning ethnic conflict in communities fighting over the few remaining areas of fertile land, the newspaper reports.

Two staples of the country's economy – agriculture and tourism – have been hit especially hard, according to the newspaper.

(AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)
Game animals that draw safari enthusiasts are ravaged by hunger while farm livestock are dying of thirst.

Despite warnings from the international aid community, the Kenyan government apparently ignored the red flags, in part because they are dealing with political infighting in the wake of a disputed election in 2007 that set off a wave of violence.

Some government officials have also been accused of illegally selling off thousands of tons of the nation's grain reserves as a famine was looming.

The United Nations World Food Program recently said that nearly four million Kenyans — or 10 percent of the population — urgently needed food.

"Red lights are flashing across the country," the agency said.

But donor nations have been slow to respond, and a United Nations-led emergency appeal for $576 million is less than half financed, the newspaper reports.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com