HUNGER-STRICKEN RESIDENTS

Relief as state sends nutrition supplies to Northern Kenya

Over one million children facing drought in Mandera, Turkana, Isiolo and Wajir counties set to benefit

In Summary

• An estimated 3.1 million people in the ASALs of Kenya are severely food insecure following three consecutive poor rain seasons, that have hampered crop production. 

• This has prompted an appeal for humanitarian assistance to more than 500,000 people for 18 months. 

Nick Dyer, Jane Marriott, Jean Lokenga, Terry Ramadhani and Rashid Aman during the flag off of the 31,500 cartons of therapeutic food donated by the UK Government, released to drought affected counties in Kenya on Tuesday, July 12.
ALLEVIATING HUNGER: Nick Dyer, Jane Marriott, Jean Lokenga, Terry Ramadhani and Rashid Aman during the flag off of the 31,500 cartons of therapeutic food donated by the UK Government, released to drought affected counties in Kenya on Tuesday, July 12.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Thousands of residents of Northern Kenya are set to benefit from ready-to-use therapeutic food flagged off on Tuesday in Nairobi. 

The donation by the UK government will alleviate the hunger of more than one million children facing drought in Mandera, Turkana, Isiolo and Wajir counties.

British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott presided over the event, which was also graced by Health CAS Rashid Amana. 

The officials said the food will be a relief to many in the area.

An estimated 3.1 million people in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands of Kenya are severely food insecure following three consecutive poor rain seasons, that have hampered crop production. 

This has prompted an appeal for humanitarian assistance to more than 500,000 people for 18 months. 

Last week President Uhuru Kenyatta warned that the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa risks raising tensions that could trigger new conflicts.

He spoke during the 39th Extraordinary Igad Heads of State and Government Summit in Nairobi.

Uhuru said there is a need to manage the drought before it becomes a threat multiplier.

“The drought, the worst in 40 years, has intensified food insecurity, dried up water resources, and forced displacement of people raising tensions that could trigger new conflicts,” he said. 

The President said the Horn of Africa has faced various challenges.

He said in the past two years alone, the region has had to deal with a desert locust invasion, the ongoing drought and threats related to violent extremism.

Also, armed conflict, Covid-19 pandemic and the effects of the Russia-Ukraine war.

“As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to work together and do so boldly and creatively to navigate the multiple crises we face.

"Lets seize opportunities as they emerge, and define the path of peace and sustainable economic development,” Uhuru said.

Due to limited food, pasture and water, there is a historical pattern of pastoral communities fighting for the available resources in southern parts of Ethiopia, Northern Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on June 27 said more than 18 million people are food insecure due to drought and more than seven million children face acute malnutrition.

In its report, OCHA said acute food insecurity continues to rise in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia and attributed it to “an exceptionally persistent and severe drought.”

The situation, it said, increases the risk of starvation in the region and the potential for famine in Somalia.

“Four consecutive below-average rainy seasons since late 2020 have made the current drought the most extensive since 1981. The October–December 2022 forecasts anticipate another below-average rainy season.

"The drought has impacted farmer and pastoralist livelihoods and led to lower food production and millions of livestock deaths,” OCHA said.

In April, the EU Commission said the drought situation has been worsened by Covid-19 impacts, conflict and insecurity, as well as the expected aggravation of food insecurity and nutrition due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

However, Uhuru said despite the challenges, the people of the Horn of Africa are determined to forge ahead, to build a better future for themselves and the next generations.

“It is also worth noting that the picture is not totally bleak. We have recently celebrated the peaceful transition of power in Somalia. And in regards to some of the conflicts that have rocked our region, we see a commitment to a peaceful transition,” he said.

There are proposed talks between Ethiopia federal government and Tigray, while there is some progress in the South Sudan peace process albeit delays towards the February 2023 deadline.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)

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