Drought in Kenya
Drought in Kenya: Kenya is a drought, famine and hunger prone country, primarily because of its peculiar eco-climatic conditions. Although dissected by the equator in its southern half, Kenya contains only a few pockets of high and regular rainfall. Arid and semi-arid lands cover 80% of the territory. In these areas, where annual rainfall varies from 200 to 500 mm, periodical droughts are part of the climate system.
Drought in Kenya – Drought Situation Report by the World Food Programme Kenya
The poor performance of the current short rains season in Kenya shows a similar pattern to that which preceded the 2010/2011 Horn of Africa drought crisis.
The situation may be even more serious as the current drought follows a poor 2016 long rains season, whereas the 2010 long rains were favourable.
Food security and nutrition in the arid and semi-arid areas will continue to deteriorate, with widespread drought stress expected in the first quarter of 2017.
Following two consecutive poor rainy seasons, the number of people that are acutely food insecure in Kenya is expected to rise to well over 2 million for February-August 2017 – up from 1.25 million for September 2016-January 2017. The National Disaster Management Authority has warned that Kenya could face a drought similar or worse in intensity than that experienced in 2011 before the 2017 long rains start (March-May). 12 counties (up from 8 in December 2016) are now in the ‘alarm’ drought phase (one step from the ‘emergency’ phase). These are: Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana, West Pokot and Wajir. The remaining 11 counties of the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) are in the “alert” drought phase. Drought conditions in all ASAL counties are currently deteriorating.
The national and county governments are responding with relief distributions of food, water, fodder. The national government allocated USD 54 million (KES 5.4 billion) for drought responses between November and January. This included 6,500 mt of relief food per month distributed by the State Department of Special Programmes. Both food and cash transfers for relief are planned for February-July.
The Government’s Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) continues to provide monthly cash transfers to around 100,000 households (around 500,000 people) in Mandera, Marsabit, Turkana and Wajir counties. The HSNP scaledup transfers to an additional 79,000 households in these counties in January.
The prevalence of acute malnutrition in northern Kenya is above 20 percent, or ‘very critical’, in four counties (Baringo, Mandera, Marsabit and Turkana) and 15 percent, or ‘critical’, in a fifth (West Pokot). Another four counties (Garissa, Samburu, Tana River and Wajir) have ‘serious’ acute malnutrition (10 percent-14 percent). Nutrition surveys are currently being conducted in Baringo, Isiolo, Lamu, Marsabit, Mandera, Tana River and Turkana, with results expected in February 2017. Counties are scaling up their nutrition response, including mass screening and outreach, which will improve early identification and access to essential services for malnourished people requiring support.
Drought in Kenya – World Food Programme Kenya Response
Drought in Kenya – Food Assistance
WFP food assistance is reaching around 650,000 people through asset-creation activities for resilience in 15 arid and semi-arid counties: food transfers are used in Garissa, Isiolo, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana and Wajir; cash transfers are used in Baringo, Kilifi, Kwale, Kitui, Makueni, and Taita Taveta. Between September and December 2016, WFP distributed almost 10,400 mt of food and USD4.7 million (KES 471 million) for asset-creation. January is one of the immediate post harvest months and therefore there were no food or cash transfers. However, if the needs persist and with donors support, WFP could distribute resources to the most affected people for the remaining post-harvest months.
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WFP facilitated the distribution of 400 mt of maize to 60,000 people in Samburu County in November/December 2016. The county government procured the maize while WFP, with support from USAID, matched with twinning funds for associated costs. In January, the county government has procured an additional 688 mt of food for acutely food insecure households in Samburu. WFP and USAID will support the handling, transportation and distribution costs.
Drought in Kenya – Nutrition
WFP is supporting the Government with the current emergency response by complementing the provision of nutrition commodities in Baringo, Garissa, Turkana and West Pokot counties and by providing technical assistance to the emergency nutrition operation. WFP is reaching 32,300 children under 5 and 19,800 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers through 633 health facilities.
Ministry of Health and State Department of Special Programmes bought 376 mt of fortified blended food and 130 mt of ready-to-use supplementary food for dispatch to the counties for the treatment of acute malnutrition. WFP and UNICEF identified priority areas for the allocation plan.
Drought in Kenya – Capacity Strengthening
WFP is working with four counties (Baringo, Marsabit, Samburu and Wajir) in strengthening capacities for managing and implementing emergency preparedness and response (EPR) and to foster stronger coordination between stakeholders. WFP has seconded staff to these counties for advisory and technical assistance in EPR and safety nets, technical training in EPR and humanitarian supply chain management, and supporting a policy environment for disaster risk management activities to be included in county budgets.
WFP has seconded a staff member to the State Department of Special Programmes to provide technical support. The current focus is to review the food management guidelines in order to address commodity accounting, targeting and accountability to beneficiaries.
Drought in Kenya – School Meals
In 2016, WFP provided a daily nutritious meal to 500,000 children in eight arid and now drought-affected counties. Due to a severe funding shortfall, WFP is unable to provide school meals in Term 1 of 2017 (January – April), affecting 428,000 children in Baringo, Garissa, Mandera, Marsabit, Turkana (partly), Wajir, and West Pokot. School meals are recognised as one of the most important and dependable safety nets for children and their families in Kenya. The meals represent an indirect income transfer to households and they are a powerful incentive for families to continue to invest in education, despite their livelihoods being under stress.