HUNGRY HORN OF AFRICA

Children to suffer acute malnutrition in drought

More than 541,309 Kenyan children under five at high risk

In Summary

• More children under five years will be affected by malnutrition as drought persists 

• The nutrition trend in the Horn of Africa is worrying 

Unicef good will ambassador Kevin Umbima with residents of Nakodet in Turkana County while attending screening and treatment of children suffering from malnutrition on Junly 12, 2017.
Unicef good will ambassador Kevin Umbima with residents of Nakodet in Turkana County while attending screening and treatment of children suffering from malnutrition on Junly 12, 2017.
Image: JACK OWUOR

More than 541, 309 children under age five are expected to suffer acute malnutrition as drought persists in Kenya.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development on Wednesday said the nutrition outlook is expected to worsen in coming months should rain fail to fall, as expected. 

Ambassador Mahboud Maalim, the IGAD executive secretary, said the 2019 projections show a worrying regional nutrition outlook.

Maalim briefed the media in Nairobi on drought in the Horn of Africa He said the situation is expected to worsen without significant rain.

He said 2.76 million children under five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in Ethiopia, 903,086 in Somalia and an estimated 541 309 in Kenya.

In total, over four million children are predicted to require support for acute malnutrition.

“This does not include the additional three million pregnant and breastfeeding women nor the potential additional numbers if robust prevention is not actively implemented,” he said.

The Food Security and Nutrition Working Group called for immediate and coordinated planning by governments, donors and all stakeholders to respond to deteriorating food security and nutrition.

The Food Security and Nutrition Working Group is a regional platform, currently co-chaired by IGAD and FAO.

The group recommended that nutrition treatment supplies be sufficiently prepositioned to avoid a stock-out.

It recommended support to animal fodder, water and health, cash/in-kind food support for vulnerable households or nutritious products for those most at risk.

David Phiri, FAO Eastern Africa coordinator, said it is more effective to protect livelihood assets through early action — rather than to wait for disaster to strike.

“Current projections for malnutrition in 2019 are worrying. Given the dry conditions so far and if rains continue to be delayed, the numbers needing nutrition support will only grow,” said Erika Joergensen, WFP Regional Director for East Africa.