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Kenya sees lower-than-normal rains hurting farms, power output

Source: Reuters - Fri, 30 Aug 2013 16:27 GMT
Author: Reuters
cli-wea hum-wat hum-hun cli-ada
Farmers work on paddy fields at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kirinyaga district, about 100 km (62 miles) southeast of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 23, 2009. REUTERS/Noor Khamis
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NAIROBI, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Kenya is expected to receive lower-than-normal and poorly distributed rains in the last quarter of 2013 which could impact agricultural production and power supply from hydro-electric dams, the Meteorological Department said on Friday.

East Africa's biggest economy relies heavily on agriculture and power from dams. Analysts watch the forecasts to gauge the impact on inflation, which could be pushed up if harvests are weak and cheap hydropower is in short supply.

Inflation rose to 6.67 percent in the year to August from 6.02 percent a month earlier.

"Generally depressed rainfall is expected over most agricultural areas of the country. It is also expected that the rainfall will be poorly distributed," the department said.

"This will impact negatively on the agricultural activities in most of the areas. Food security is expected to deteriorate especially in the eastern sector of Kenya during the October-December period," it said in a statement.

Kenya has two rainy seasons, the so-called short rains of October to December and the long rains of March to May.

The Meteorological Department said the short rains outlook in the food-growing areas of the Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley regions would be for near- or above-normal rain.

It said some other food-growing areas such as Central, Southeastern and Coastal regions would have near-normal rains.

For hydropower generation, the department said catchment areas in western Kenya would have near- to above-normal rainfall, improving water levels in some dams.

But normal to below-normal rains in the Tana and Athi River catchment areas were likely to lead to low flows to major dams, it said, adding that this could reduce hydro-electric power capacity.

The department said parts of the country's Northeastern and Eastern provinces, which border Somalia and Ethiopia which are already drought prone, would receive scant rainfall. (Writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Jason Neely)

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