WFP and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) appealed today for a total of US$29 million to assist 1.2 million people in Kenya struggling with critical food shortages, limited agricultural support, and shortages of basic health care and drinking water caused by drought and extreme poverty.
A comprehensive assessment conducted in July by the Government of Kenya, UN agencies and non-governmental partners to determine the impact of the 2005 long rains on drought-affected Kenyans found pockets of critical need persisted, particularly in the southeast and rural areas of the Coast and Northeastern Province.
The unusual pattern of the long rains this year, with most of the heavy rain falling in May instead of April, affected this year’s harvests, particularly in the Eastern and coastal lowlands, including Makueni and Kitui Districts.
WFP’s drought emergency operation, which was initially launched in July 2004 after poor rains in eastern, southern and parts of northern Kenya left 2.3 million people in need, has been extended for six months until February 2006 at a value of US$25 million.
This is the second time the operation has been extended.
“The good news is that there has been an improvement in some areas that were severely affected by last year’s drought, namely in Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, West Pokot, Laikipia, Baringo, Isiolo, Kajiado and Narok districts, so the number of Kenyans in need of our assistance has dropped by 800,000,” said WFP Country Director Tesema Negash.
“However pastoralists in Wajir, Garissa and Mandera districts once again face inadequate water supplies and dry grasslands and the early migration of livestock is affecting access to milk for many living there.”
More than a million
“More than a million people still need our assistance, and we are urging the international community to step forward to ensure these people do not go hungry,” added Negash.
Of the 1.2 million people in need, WFP aims to provide a total of 78,941 metric tons of food between September 2005 and February 2006 to:
- 775,000 people through general food distributions;
- 250,000 Kenyans in nine districts through food for work initiatives to improve communities’ access to water and the environment;
- 52,112 pregnant and lactating mothers and children under five through supplementary feeding;
- and to 200,000 school children to provide nutritional support and encourage children in the eastern and coastal districts to go to school.
UNICEF with its partners has identified areas that urgently require at least US$4 million for non-food interventions critical to improve and safeguard the lives of many vulnerable women and children for 6 months until February 2006.
The interventions include targeted feeding for malnourished and vulnerable children, provision of vitamin A capsules, immunization against polio and measles, provision of health services and repair and rehabilitation of water sources.
“The nutrition and health surveys conducted in the affected areas continue to show high rates of malnutrition among children, especially in the Northeastern parts of the country which is the most vulnerable region, with high malnutrition rates,” said UNICEF Kenya Representative Heimo Laakkonen.
UNICEF will also work to ensure that children stay in school where a protective environment is assured and that systems are in place to protect children from exploitation and abuse.