NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Kenya's president appealed to the United States and the European Union for food aid, saying 23 million Kenyans face hunger due to the lack of seasonal rain, newspapers reported Thursday.

Daniel arap Moi announced the appeal Wednesday in a rally at his rural home near the farming town of Nakuru, 90 miles northwest of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

He did not say when he made the request or how the government reached the population figure, which equals almost 80 percent of Kenya's 29 million people.

The long rains usually come from March to May, the country's main planting season. But despite overcast skies, there has been little rainfall.

The U.N. World Food Program plans to appeal for food for about 2.3 to 2.7 million Kenyans this year, Brenda Barton, an agency spokeswoman said Thursday.

``Right now we are working on figures of the needy people in the whole of the Horn of Africa before making the appeal,'' Barton said.

The USAID Famine Early Warning System in Nairobi estimates this year in Kenya there will be a shortage of 2.2 million bags of maize, a staple for Kenyans. The government's estimate is 3 million bags. A bag is 198 pounds.

Kenya is suffering from a three-year drought that is threatening 16 million people in the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia.

The drought has also played havoc with Nairobi's supply of hydroelectric power and drinking water, both of which will be rationed.