NUTRITION

Kenya needs Sh3bn to combat hunger next year – Unicef report

By August 2019, 665,000 children aged below five years were acutely malnourished

In Summary

• Failure of the two rainy reasons has contributed to high levels of acute malnutrition.

• The largest chunk is supposed to go to the nutrition and education sectors with each requiring $13 million and $5.9 million, respectively.

Residents of Kaikor in Turkana North wait to draw water at a shallow well
FOOD SECURITY: Residents of Kaikor in Turkana North wait to draw water at a shallow well
Image: /HESBORN ETYANG

Kenya will require at least $30 million (Sh3 billion) in 2020 for food and safe water, a Unicef report shows.

The Humanitarian Action for Children 2020 Overview Report estimates that the failure of two consecutive rainy seasons – between October 2018 and May this year – had by October 2019 left at least three million people in dire need of food and safe water.

Unicef says the failure of the two rainy seasons contributed to high levels of acute malnutrition. The number of children with severe acute malnutrition rose by 15 per cent.

“By August 2019, 665,000 children aged below five years were acutely malnourished, including 145,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition,” Unicef says.

The largest chunk of the money is supposed to go to the nutrition and education sectors with each requiring $13 million (Sh1.3 billion) and $5.9 million (Sh595 million), respectively.

Health sector will require $5.1 million (Sh505 million), water, sanitation and hygiene will require $2.2 million (Sh222 million), while child protection will require $2 million (Sh200 million).

Social protection and sector coordination will need $1 million (Sh100 million) and $500,000 (Sh50million), respectively.

"The worsening drought conditions are contributing to resource-based conflicts, increasing child protection risks, such as separation from families for 130,500 children, and reducing access to schooling for 560,000 children," the report says.

According to the UN agency, drought-related disease outbreaks have escalated, with nearly 4,000 cholera cases, 420 measles cases and 2,500 cases of kala-azar reported as of August 2019.

"The next rainy season is expected to be above average, leading to flood-related displacement and disease outbreaks."

Kenya is among the top refugee-hosting countries in Africa, with over 477,000 refugees and asylum seekers reported as of July 2019, 56 per cent of whom are children.

Under the nutrition fund, it is targeted that 110,597 children aged six to 59 months affected by severe acute malnutrition admitted for treatment are set to benefit, with 252,186 children being vaccinated against measles in the health sector.

More than 255,614 children are expected to access primary healthcare through Unicef-supported outreach, while 250,000 people will be assisted to access safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene.

Child protection is expected to cater for at least 36,874 children and caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support and 876 emergency-affected children and caregivers accessing gender-based violence prevention and care services

The programme targets 195,521 children accessing formal or informal education, including early learning

More than 20,000 households are to be reached with humanitarian cash transfers in 2020.

Unicef plans to coordinate and strengthen evidence-based advocacy for preparedness and response to disease outbreaks, including Ebola, cholera and vaccine-preventable diseases, will also be strengthened.

“The UN agency will enhance capacities and pre-position critical supplies to facilitate the delivery of life-saving health interventions to unreached children.”

Capacities for emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) preparedness and response will also be strengthened through sector coordination and strategic partnerships that facilitate rapid response to emergency needs.