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February 19, 2018

3.4 million facing risk of starvation

Girls carry carcasses of goats in a village near Loiyangalani, Turkana, on March 21
Girls carry carcasses of goats in a village near Loiyangalani, Turkana, on March 21

More than three million people are staring at starvation as drought worsens in most parts of Northern Kenya, according to the World Food Programme 

WFP requires Sh2.1 billion to tackle acute malnutrition in Turkana, West Pokot, Tiaty, Baringo, Samburu, Isiolo, Marsabit, Mandera, Moyale and Saku.

A status update by the UN agency says cumulatively, an estimated 5.6 million people have been affected by the drought. Out of this number, 3.4 million lack enough food in the the 23 arid and semi-arid counties.

Out of the 3.4 million, 2.6 million face severe food insecurity with 500,000 experiencing ‘emergency’ levels. At least 370,000 children and 37,000 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are acutely malnourished.

Treatment of acutely malnourished children and mothers has been expanded from 10 to 23 counties.

Kenya, alongside other countries in the Horn of Africa, has faced a severe food crisis for most of 2017 due to the recurrence of drought in shorter cycles, negating efforts to reduce vulnerability. The drought was declared a national disaster on  February 10  and a humanitarian Flash Appeal was launched in March.

A revised flash appeal has since been launched in response to the drought for four months (September–December 2017 ) with a tighter geographical focus on the counties worst affected by the drought.

To prevent further deterioration in nutritional status, all children aged six to 59 months ( 617,000 ) and pregnant and breastfeeding women ( 162,000 )  will be targeted with blanket supplementary feeding.

However, available funding will only allow the WFP to provide supplementary feeding to mothers and children in the five counties until the end of October. 

Without further resources, mothers and children will not receive additional nutritional support from November – the peak of the lean season. “The blanket supplementary feeding being rolled out to prevent further deterioration in vulnerable populations,” states the report.

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