ACT Appeal Kenya: West Pokot/Turkana famine - AFKE-31


Appeal Target: US$ 1,467,216
Geneva, 15 January 2003

Dear Colleagues,

The semi-arid districts of Turkana and West-Pokot in Northern Kenya experienced very poor rains last season leading to serious food shortages and lack of water for both livestock and the human population. The churches in the districts raised serious concerns to the government and to the ecumenical organisations working in Kenya as to the plight of the people and livestock and the need for urgent relief interventions. Led by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, the churches approached the ACT Nairobi Forum in late October 2002 to undertake an assessment of the situation with an aim to intervene. The ACT Nairobi Forum led by NCA commissioned an assessment in mid November, 2002. The assessment revealed near total crop failure with mixed farming zones realizing less than 10% food harvest. This has resulted in a substantial rise in malnutrition levels especially among children and women.

The ACT Nairobi Forum which comprises Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), Dan Church Aid (DCA), Christian Aid (CA), National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Church World Service (CWS), Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK)and the Methodist Church in Kenya (MCK) propose to respond in the two districts through local churches as outlined in the appeal. NCA has been designated Lead Agency for the forum and will be responsible for receipt of funds and also will be responsible for submitting the required reports to the ACT Coordinating Office. The intervention will include distribution of relief food, agriculture inputs and also capacity building of local partner churches.

Project Completion Date: 31 October 2003

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested

Total Appeal Target(s)
Less: Pledges/Contr. Recd.
Balance Requested from ACT Network

Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:

Account Number - 240-432629.60A (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
PO Box 2600
1211 Geneva 2

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.

ACT Web Site address:

Ms. Geneviève Jacques
WCC/Cluster on Relations
John Nduna
Acting Director
Robert Granke
LWF/World Service

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.


  • Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), Nairobi


The ACT Nairobi Forum (ANF) is proposing this appeal and consequently, will be responsible for follow up on the project implementation and reporting procedures as required by ACT Geneva. ANF has mandated Norwegian Church (NCA) to be the lead Agency and directly responsible for communication with ACT Geneva, while keeping the partners in Nairobi informed accordingly.

ACT Nairobi Forum, brings together Churches and Ecumenical Organisations based in Nairobi. These carry out extension work with various grassroots partners in the region by supporting their activities and closely co-ordinating activities with the government and other humanitarian organisations.

The ACT Nairobi Forum membership currently include, Norwegian Church Aid, Danchurch Aid, Christian Aid, National Council of Churches of Kenya, Lutheran World Federation, Lutheran World Relief, Church World Service, the Anglican Church of Kenya and the Methodist Church in Kenya.

The ANF members have responded to various emergency interventions in Kenya in the recent past, e.g. the El Nino floods of 1997-98 and later the 1999-2000 drought. Joint initiatives have consolidated the co-ordination efforts of the ACT Members in Kenya and the forum has grown which has led to formulation of terms of reference for the members.

The lead agency, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), has been involved in emergency operations in many parts of the world for more than half a century. NCA operates in the Eastern Africa region covering Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Somalia, and Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. NCA has accumulated practical and strategic experience in handling emergencies in the region for over 30 years.

NCA successfully facilitated local churches partners response to famine related emergency interventions during the 1999/2000 drought in West Pokot, Turkana and Mandera districts. The local churches mainly implemented the projects. In West Pokot and Turkana, three of the churches involved in implementation at that time are part of those earmarked to implement the current Appeal i.e., DOL, ELCK and FGCK.

Description of ACT Member's Implementing Partners

  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya- West Pokot:

ELCK has been present in West Pokot District since 1978, and has participated in a wide range of emergency operations in the district. The most recent was during the emergency situation in the year 2000, when ELCK received funds for relief from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway.

By mid June 2000, WFP came in and ELCK extended its engagement in the emergency relief operation in co-ordination with other partner churches. This was in close co-operation with the government through the District Steering Group (DSG). ELCK and other grassroots church partners have good contact with the local communities to ensure an effective implementation of relief operations.

The ELCK has made a concerted effort to involve all the actors on the ground in the current famine response. For example in the latest meeting with the District Steering Group(DSG), held 13 December 2002 on 'drought recovery strategy', the 'ELCK put forward a fund raising plan. It was also agreed to work closely with the other churches to distribute food once it arrives through the DSG making use of the EMOP system of food distribution.

  • Anglican Church of Kenya- West Pokot

The Anglican Church of Kenya, one of the founding church members of NCCK has been involved in development and relief activities in West Pokot for many years. The ACK provided leadership in the recently concluded WFP supported Emergency operations (EMOP) in the district.

That EMOP, which is said to be one of the largest relief operations in Kenya in recent past, was fully managed by churches, with minimum support from outside. The ACK was the lead Agency in that operation, which involved 9 other churches as implementing partners in the district.

ACK will be responsible for implementing the recovery and rehabilitation component of this Appeal in West Pokot.

  • Catholic Diocese of Lodwar- Turkana

The Catholic Diocese of Lodwar (DOL) has been in Turkana district for more than twenty years. It has a well co-ordinate grassroots presence and support in the district. The DOL implemented a large Emergency intervention which focussed on food for work in partnership with NCA during the 1999/ 2000 drought and famine.

The diocese has also been instrumental in the implementation of various relief and Emergency assistance together with various humanitarian agencies and the Government of Kenya for many years.

  • Full Gospel Church of Kenya- East Pokot/ West Turkana

The Full Gospel Church of Kenya has been involved in community development in both East Pokot and the southern edge of Turkana district since the early 1980s. The FGCK has worked in partnership with Finnish missions in community health related projects in Kapeddo in the past. During the 1999/ 2000 famine, the Church was instrumental in the implementation of an expanded health assistance which was supported by the Norwegian Government's Ministry of foreign Affairs through NCA.


There has been a slow onset of famine in West Pokot and Turkana in the mainly arid- and semiarid districts in northern Kenya. According to the Government of Kenya (GOK) reports, the long drought in Kenya experienced since late 1999 had eased by mid 2002 with notable improvement in Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) districts. Following these favourable weather conditions, the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) endorsed plans for the total phase out of the Kenya drought relief (EMOP), with effect from March 2002. Thus bringing an end to relief food distribution by the end of September 2002.

Pastoralists' herds in West Pokot were expected to take longer to recover than usual due to the extended 1999 - 2001 droughts. However, the poor rain season experienced in 2002 altered the situation such that, the Pastoral inhabitants whose current herds sizes cannot support the household food security, are facing a serious disaster.

In the GOK/UNFAO Drought Early Warning system (Drought monitoring bulletin of October 2002), they capture the situation thus: 'pasture and water availability continued to decline in the drier livelihood zones'. The situation overview in the bulletin argues that 'only 10% of the usual expected harvest in October materialised'. The situation was exacerbated by 'the advent of hot weather continued across all Food Economy Zones.'

In the case of Turkana, reduced water volumes in the seasonal rivers - the source of irrigation water for the agro-pastorlist farmers practising small scale irrigation farming on river banks, has severely hampered farming activities.

The church leaders in the region, including the Evangelical Lutheran church of Kenya, Anglican Church, Catholic Diocese of Lodwar, the Full Gospel Church of Kenya among others have, however, persistently raised concerns that the famine situation in their areas is far from over.

In particular the ELCK approached the ACT Nairobi Forum, through NCA Regional Office in Nairobi with a proposal showing large populations facing a serious famine threat. The situation is beyond the church's capacity and resources to intervene. Yet, the pressure due to the looming famine threat on churches on the ground is increasing by the day.

ACT Nairobi Forum (ANF) has undertaken to respond to the famine concerns raised by churches who had requested a professional assessment of the situation, to help them consolidate a co-ordinated appeal that would cover West Pokot and Turkana districts.

ANF has mandated NCA to be the lead Agency in this Appeal while the grassroots churches will take lead as implementing partners. ANF commissioned a consultant to evaluate the drought situation and carry out a Rapid Appraisal exercise, covering West Pokot and Turkana districts between 11 and 22 November 2002.

Findings from the Appraisal Mission 11- 22 November 2002

West Pokot district :

  • This season's rainfall and distribution was the worst ever experienced in the district since 1984. The amount received was neither adequate to sustain planted food crops nor support the regeneration of pasture and browse for livestock. This has led to a near total crop failure with mixed farming zones realising less than 10% food harvest.

  • During this year's harvest season (which normally starts from September to October) the main food producing zones in the district registered a 97% drop from the normal maize production levels

  • Furthermore, apart from the poor rains this year, there was a decrease in acreage of arable land under maize crop occasioned by poor prices and delayed payment of delivered produce to the National Cereal and Produce Board (NCPD) by farmers last year. This affected the farmers ability to procure and utilise, the necessary farming inputs in a timely manner.

  • With West Pokot experiencing only one planting season per annum, failure of the rains implies food shortages will continue unless rains surface.

  • Hundreds of the pastoralists and agro-pastorlists have relocated their livestock to neighbouring Trans-Nzoia district and Uganda. Hence complicating further the household food security of the remaining family members i.e. children, women and the elderly.


  • Pasture availability within most dry season grazing areas is worse than normal for the season with deterioration of forage for livestock. Most surface water sources are drying up forcing pastoralist communities to migrate.

  • There is an increased number of animals offered for sale and prices have started to drop, with average sale prices of goats and sheep dropping from $US 12 during September 2002 to $US 9 in October 2002. This downward price trend has partly been triggered by increased prices of cereals, indicative of the significant drop in pastoralist purchasing power.

  • Community security and peace is also threatened as large herds of livestock moving from East Baringo through West Pokot to traditional dry season grazing areas in South Turkana frequently create tension and conflict along the Turkana/West Pokot borders.

  • A rapid rise in malnutrition levels in the 3 divisions of (Lokori, Kakuma and Lokitaung) is particularly severe among households that had not fully recovered from the effects of the previous droughts.

It is established that the time frame of the previous relief operation was built on the anticipation that this year's harvest in September would sustain the situation in West Pokot. However, this did not come through as the districts have experienced an almost total failure of the 2002 harvest in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas.

In fact the situation this year is worse compared to both 1984 and 2000.The findings give a scenario that is worrying and showing a worsening trend which is likely to develop into an alarming situation before the end of the year.

Description of Damages

This years rainfall amounts and distribution is the worst ever experienced since 1984. It has not been enough to sustain food crops planted and even not adequate to sustain pasture and browse for the livestock.

Consequently, a worsening trend has developed with the following indicators:

  • Food crops planted have withered and dried hence 97% total crop failure noted in the pastoral, Agro-pastoral and parts of mixed farming zones.

  • Livestock have migrated far away from the households in search of pasture/browse and water.

  • Most rivers have shown reduced water flow while others have dried up.

  • The number of livestock offered for sale during market days has increased drastically especially in the month of August, September and October.

  • The market prices of livestock have shown a decline.

  • The prices of cereals and legumes have increased sharply since October 2002.

Impact on Human Lives

Due to the poor harvest and livestock migration in the pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihood zones, it is evident that a great number of people will be severely affected by the drought.

There is already an obvious shortage of food items in the mentioned areas. To a limited extent maize is still available in the markets, but the exchange rate between meat and cereal makes it unaffordable for a large portion of the population.

Locations for Proposed Response

This intervention will focus two districts, West Pokot and Turkana.

In West Pokot the project will mainly concentrate its efforts in the pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihood zones in the following divisions: Alale, Kasei, Kacheliba, Kongelai, Chepareria, Sigor, Chesagon and parts of Kapenguria. While in Turkana, the focus will be to target to four divisions, namely, Lokitung, Kakuma, Lokori, and Kapeddo (Lomello).

Current Security Situation

The area of operation is relatively peaceful, save for sporadic cattle rustling.



  • To alleviate some of the consequences of famine for some of the most vulnerable peoples in West Pokot and Turkana districts.

  • To strengthen agro- pastoralist farming efforts for improved food security and strategies to cope with drought.


  • To provide timely relief food for the famine stricken families with emphasise on food for work.

  • Provide farm inputs and tools to 5,200 agro-pastoralist families in the two districts.

  • To facilitate recovery and a phase out strategy by supporting community micro projects in the two districts through food for work.

  • To strengthen the capacity of local partner churches, to manage and respond to such emergency situations.

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