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Kenya: Responding to the needs of 2.6 million people

22 May 2017


More than 2.6 million Kenyans are severely food insecure, and this number is rising rapidly. Many pastoralist households are experiencing crisis levels of acute food insecurity. During the lean season (July to September), many families will experience emergency acute food insecurity, which is just one step away from famine.

The UN launched an appeal in March requesting US$166 million to provide immediate assistance to people in need in Kenya. But a funding gap of a staggering 64 per cent is hampering the ongoing response.

This is particularly concerning, as high levels of malnutrition are prevalent across the arid and semi-arid lands. Three of Kenya’s sub-counties report global acute malnutrition rates of 30 per cent, which is double the emergency threshold. Nearly 344,000 children and more than 43,000 pregnant and lactating women are acutely malnourished. From March to May, there was a 32 per cent increase in the total number of acutely malnourished children. Over the next six months, an estimated 553,000 children under age 5 and pregnant and lactating women will require blanket supplementary feeding in five counties.

3 million people have no access to clean water

Severe drought has dried up water resources in half of Kenya’s 47 counties. An estimated 3 million people lack access to clean water. Hygiene-promotion activities and the rehabilitation of water points, boreholes and water trucks are urgently required, including in schools and health clinics. Poor sanitation and shortage of safe potable water is leading to an increase of communicable and waterborne diseases, especially among children under age 5.

As families travel in search of water, food, jobs and pasture for their livestock, they put their lives at risk. This is particularly true for women and children, with an estimated 175,655 people–including 139,000 children–exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation due to drought.

Water shortages and the absence of school feeding have affected school attendance across the arid and semi-arid lands. Some schools have closed down because children or teachers have left the area, while other schools are struggling to cope with an influx of displaced children. The education sector has received just 1 per cent of the required $5.9 million to fund critical activities for 588,000 children.

Photos: OCHA/Rita Maingi