On 10 February the Government declared a national drought disaster, with 23 of 47 counties affected. The number of food insecure people more than doubled – from 1.3 million to 2.6 million. Some 465,595 children between 6 and 59 months old are acutely malnourished. The latest nutrition surveys show that Turkana North, North Horr (Marsabit), and Mandera County have GAM rates above 30 per cent. Turkana Central, Turkana South, Turkana West, Laisamis, East Pokot, and Isiolo County have GAM rates between 15 and 29 per cent. 

Water shortages are one of the largest challenges for people, livestock and crop cultivation. The Ministry of Water and Irrigation estimates that a total of 2.7 million people are in urgent need of safe drinking water. People have to travel further to access water: for example in Baringo household walk three times longer than normal.

As a result of the drought and water shortages, terms of trade are declining sharply for pastoralists, contributing to rising food insecurity and malnutrition. Livestock prices have dropped by up to 90 per cent in some areas. Pastoralist communities in Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu and Mandera counties are reporting large numbers of animal deaths. Household production of milk and meat is low and the price of milk and other dairy products has skyrocketed. This means that protein-rich food is increasingly out of reach of vulnerable pastoralists. Maize production in the coastal areas decreased by 99 per cent compared to the long term average. Food consumption patterns are deteriorating, with many households in cross-border areas skipping meals and eating less when they do eat.

Loss of livestock assets, increasing food prices and lack of water are triggering negative coping mechanisms among pastoral and agro-pastoral communities. Poverty and destitution are driving families to migrate into informal relief camps or cities. Child protection risks in drought-affected areas are increasing: There is already an observed increase in the number of street children in urban centers. With increased movements of people in search of water and pasture, one key concern is children being separated from their families. Data collected by UNICEF from ten affected counties indicates that close to 175,000 children are not attending pre-primary and primary schools due to the drought’s impact. Incidents of physical, sexual, and other forms of gender-based violence often increase during emergencies. During the 2011 Horn of Africa crisis, girls and women were disproportionately affected. For example in Turkana, many girls were sold into marriage in exchange for livestock, or dropped out of school to support their families.

The Government’s drought response plan runs from November 2016 to July 2017, requiring US$ 213 million to support 2.7 million drought-affected people. Of these requirements, the Government has committed to funding nearly 54 per cent (US$ 109 million), leaving a funding gap of US$ 104 million. Additionally, the Government has indicated that the financial requirements for May to July are likely to be much higher than initially anticipated. The Government response focuses on food security, water and sanitation, health and nutrition, peace and security, agriculture and livestock, and education.

On 16 March, the United Nations and humanitarian partners launched the Kenya Drought Flash Appeal. The appeal calls for US$ 166 million to reach 2.6 million people with life-saving assistance and protection between March and December 2017. The Flash Appeal complements the Government's nine-month response plan (November 2016 - July 2017), and in addition focuses on funding needs for the period between August and December 2017, which is not covered by the Government's drought response plan.

One of the most immediate challenges is a break in the supply of nutritional items due to delays in the Ministry of Health purchasing of ready-to-use supplementary food / fortified food which have been pending since early December. WFP and UNICEF are supporting the Government to find faster procurement options. Secondly, it is estimated that a majority of early childhood and primary schools have not received food for school feeding programmes, leading to a decrease in school enrolment and attendance, increasing protection concerns for these children.


Kenya: A Humanitarian Emergency - Guide to Giving
Kenya: Drought Response Situation Report 2: 23 May 2017
National Drought Early Warning bulletin 2017
Kenya 2016 Short Rains Assessment report


(UPDATED: 25 May 2017)



2017 Kenya Flash Appeal


Kenya Humanitarian Dashboard

Humanitarian Dashboard