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January 18, 2019

Access to food and milk has improved nutrition – report

Residents of Balambala constituency, Garissa county, receive relief food on April 10 last year /FILE
Residents of Balambala constituency, Garissa county, receive relief food on April 10 last year /FILE
Nutrition in drought-hit counties has improved due to the availability of food supplies, a report shows.
The improvement has mainly been attributed to improved food access indicators, including milk availability in arid counties and key emergency response interventions such as the Blanket Supplementary Feeding Programme.
By last month, the number of acutely malnourished children was 399,820 compared to 420,674 in July last year.
The assessment report by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group indicates that improved access to health and nutrition services and adequate access to water has been essential in preventing dehydration and water-related illnesses.
Even though the overall nutrition situation has progressed, the levels of acute malnutrition remains at critical levels in Turkana Central, North, West and South, Tana River, Wajir North, North Horr and Laisamis subcounties. In addition, Isiolo and Kajiado reported a serious nutrition situation, while Narok county was classified as alert.
The nutrition situation is projected to remain in the same phase in Turkana and Wajir North. A deterioration is expected in Isiolo, North Horr, Laisamis, Tana River and Kilifi due to the scale-down of emergency response interventions, including the Blanket Supplementary Feeding Programme and integrated health.
“While the nutrition situation has improved in the most affected counties following the crisis of 2017, interventions will need to be sustained to avoid levels of acute malnutrition deteriorating,” the report states.
In January, Unicef distributed 2,909 cartons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food in nine counties.
Some 29,287 people, including 2,300 schoolgoing children in eight primary schools, accessed permanent safe water sources through Unicef-supported rehabilitation of eight boreholes in Garissa county.
But even with the interventions, the assessment conducted by the Kenya Food and Nutrition Security shows that 49,991 babies aged between six and 59 months in Mandera county still require treatment for moderate acute malnutrition. Another 13,400 require treatment for severe acute malnutrition. In Nairobi, 41,000 babies require treatment for moderate acute malnutrition.
The report has recommended that partners closely monitor household milk production and consumption.
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