PRESS RELEASE: Hunger crisis in Kenya
- 700,000 children under five years, are facing starvation and possible famine in Kenya
- Children at huge risk of violence, exploitation and abuse
- The Government of Kenya estimates that the current number of people needing assistance will rise to 4 million
- Households are migrating from Turkana County into Uganda due to the drought
6th April 2017, Nairobi, Kenya – Immediate action and aid is needed to respond to 2.7 million people including 700,000 children under five years, who are facing starvation and possible famine due to lack of food and water in Kenya. According to the Government of Kenya, the current number of people needing assistance is expected to rise to 4 million by July 2017. The hunger crisis is exacerbated by drought and inter-clan conflict forcing people to migrate and putting children at huge risk of violence, exploitation and abuse. An estimated 30,000 households have moved across the border from Turkana County into Uganda due to the drought.
“Open water sources such as water pans and rivers, have dried up and the pressure on permanent water sources such as boreholes, has increased. In nearly all the counties, distances to water sources are increasing,” said World Vision Kenya Interim National Director, John Makoni.
There is a general decline in food availability across the country due to the below average 2016 short rains. Food prices (maize/corn) have increased by 20-35 percent higher than the previous 12 months, while the price of livestock has declined by 15-30 per cent within the same period. Livestock deaths have been reported in 10 counties with livestock body conditions +being poor leading to low milk production and poor market prices.
The nutrition status is deteriorating, with Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates above 30 percent reported in Turkana North, Mandera and Marsabit North. GAM rates, a World Health Organization system, helps provide a reasonable way to assess the severity of a crisis. GAM rates of 15 per cent and above are considered critical. GAM rates of 15- 29.9 percent in Baringo East, Isiolo, Turkana South, West and Central have been noted. A mass nutrition screening conducted by Ministry of Health in a hot spot area of Kibish in Turkana North revealed that 55 per cent of the screened children were acutely malnourished.
“To ensure children and their families are protected from a looming catastrophe, World Vision Kenya’s response will continue to meet the health, nutrition, child protection, livelihoods, education and water needs of those affected by the drought, giving highest priority in our response to children.” says Mr. Makoni.
About 70 percent of water pans have dried up in the 23 counties affected by the drought. Most people are relying on the available boreholes.
The number of kilometers people travel to access clean water increased by 5-10 Kilometers within the past 12 months in most counties. The most affected counties are Tana River and Mandera (20 – 30 kilometers) and among pastoral communities in Marsabit, Turkana and Samburu (7 – 10 kilometers).
In some areas, water cost per jerican has increased to Kshs. 70/- and waiting time up to 5 hours. A total of 1,099 schools (48 percent) reported having no access to water and 61 percent of schools (599), do not have an ongoing school feeding programme.
Data from the SMS-based drought monitoring system indicates that up to 114,398 children enrolled in 930 schools in 13 counties are not attending school due to the drought. Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily. No child should die as a result of Hunger.
"We urgently seek an additional $16.6 million to provide and scale up life-saving humanitarian assistance to 252,000 people facing starvation in 15 counties in Kenya for the next 12 months, says Makoni.
World Vision Kenya is already reaching 205,619 people affected by drought through its normal programming supported by donors.
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