Kenya

Aid groups unite in call to support Kenya's hungry millions


From: Humanitarian organisations involved in delivering emergency relief in Kenya

Drought-affected communities face return to hunger as food supplies fail


NAIROBI - After years of drought, more than four million vulnerable people in Kenya are still facing starvation, yet the international community is not responding adequately to appeals for food.

A group of 42 leading humanitarian and development agencies involved in life-saving emergency operations in Kenya announced today (Tuesday) that food shortages are once again creating a desperate situation. They urge governments and donors to support the Government of Kenya / World Food Programme's $89 million appeal for food, launched in February 2001. So far, there are very few pledges to the operation and the World Food Programme fears that food will run out this month.

"Despite rain in some areas, the needs are still immense," says Emma Naylor, Humanitarian Programme Coordinator for Oxfam Great Britain, which delivers food in Wajir and Turkana Districts. "This has been the worst drought that Kenya has faced in living memory. Assessments show that as many as 4.4 million people will require food aid in Kenya until the end of the year. News that food will run out by May is disastrous."

In recent months, parts of Kenya seem to have been recovering from the devastating drought, but food shortages in the north and east continue to cause serious problems. Farmers have not recovered from crop failure, and hundreds of thousands of camels, cattle and goats have died, depriving pastoralist communities of their only source of livelihood. Assessments show that even if the current rainy season is good, food will be required until the end of the year.

This is not the first time that agencies have had to appeal for assistance. In August last year, donors heeded a similar call. "There was a good response to the drought initially; in fact, the food we are distributing now is left over from that appeal. But it's running out, and if we don't keep the response going, we could be condemning people to a lifetime of destitution and hunger", says Krishnan Unny, delivering food with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Tana River.

The drought has hit Kenya at a time of economic hardship, but the Government of Kenya has made major contributions to the operation, donating food and other resources. Supplies are being delivered through a streamlined distribution system. The Government of Kenya, United Nations, humanitarian and development agencies are all working together to build on lessons learned from past emergencies. Distribution of food through community-managed structures does more to ensure that the food reaches the most vulnerable groups by enabling community members to establish targeting criteria and select beneficiaries.

"In many ways, this operation has been a model for effective delivery of relief," says Lewis Aritho of ActionAid Kenya, operational in Isiolo and Mwingi Districts. "A major humanitarian disaster was averted because food was delivered early enough, in the right quantity and to the people who really needed it. Donors can be confident that we can keep up that level of performance, but only if we have the resources. It is not enough to have prevented a crisis. We must end this vicious cycle of suffering."

A particular concern is the lack of oil and pulses, as well as a shortage of special supplementary food for children. Statistics from surveys in parts of Northern Kenya show that malnutrition among children is still unacceptably high. "As in any emergency, it is the most vulnerable people who suffer first, and worst," says Jeremy Cole at World Vision. "Children, old people and pregnant women need special foods because they have special needs. Children in particular need milk and other foods to help them grow. When this milk is not available, they are at great risk of malnutrition, and consequently disease, stunted growth and even death."

"It is desperately sad to think that despite all the progress that has been made and all the lives that have been saved, we are facing a return to wide-spread suffering," said Alloys Omolo, of CARE. "We know it is tough to keep responding over and over again, but donors should realise that if they don't support this appeal, the positive impact of their earlier response will be wasted. When you get down to the ground and see just how much effort communities are making to cope with this drought, it is an inspiration. There is no way that we should turn our backs on those people now."

--ends--

Signatories

1
Action Against Hunger UK
23
Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
2
ActionAid Kenya
24
Medair
3
Arid Lands Development Focus (Aldef)
25
Médecins Sans Frontières - Belgium (MSF-B)
4
Anglican Church of Kenya - Turkana (ACK/CCS)
26
Medicos Sin Fronteras - Spain (MSF-S)
5
Africa Muslim Association - Wajir
27
National Council of Churches (NCCK) -Turkana
6
Cafod
28
Nawoitorong Women's Centre, Turkana
7
CARE
29
Norwegian People's Aid (NPA)
8
Catholic Diocese of Lodwar
30
Oxfam Great Britain
9
Catholic Peace & Justice Commission - Lodwar
31
Oxfam Quebec
10
Catholic Mission - Wajir
32
PARC-VAC/PACE - Turkana
11
Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
33
Save the Children - UK
12
Christian Aid
34
Share International (K)
13
Christian Children's Fund - Turkana
35
Sister Fornasero, Wajir
14
Food for the Hungry International
36
SNV - PADEP
15
Handicap International
37
Tearfund
16
Helpage International
38
Trocaire
17
Helpage Kenya
39
Veterinaires Sans Frontières - Belgium (VSF-B)
18
Intermediate Technology Development Group East Africa (ITDG-EA) - Turkana
40
Wajir South Development Association (WASDA)
19
International Medical Corps (IMC)
41
World Concern
20
Joint Relief & Rehabilitation Services (JRRS)
42
World Vision
21
Kenya Red Cross - Turkana Branch
22
Kenya Red Cross - Wajir Branch

Notes for Editors

Facts and figures

There are 14 Districts currently receiving food through the WFP/GoK emergency operation: Turkana, Marsabit, Moyale, Samburu, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Kajiado, West Pokot, Baringo, Laikipia and Narok. More districts are expected to need support by September 2001.

The $89 million WFP/GoK appeal covers the provision of basic food stuffs - cereals, pulses, oil and supplementary foods - as well as the costs of delivery.

Some pledges have been received from Canada, France, Germany and the U.S.A.

Interviews and further information

We can offer multi-lingual interviews on the telephone and face to face. Languages offered include English, Kiswahili, Spanish, Dutch, German and French. We may also be able to facilitate visits to affected communities.

Key contacts for information and interviews

Agency
Contact name
Telephone (Nairobi unless indicated)
Email
ActionAid Kenya Lewis Aritho
440444
LewisA@actionaidkenya.org
Aldef Abdi Ibrahim Sulo
0136 21016
Via Oxfam GB
Cafod Stephen Lloyd
443617
Cafod@net2000ke.com
CARE Alloys Omolo
724601
alloys@care.or.ke
Catholic Diocese of Lodwar Fr. Seamus O'Neill
0393-21055
0393-21417
dol@africaonline.co.ke
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Krishnan Unny
741355
k.unny@crsnairobi.org
Christian Aid Helen Altshul
351185
Caidken@africaonline.co.ke
Food for the Hungry International Tobias Owambo
441789
towambo@fhi.net
Helpage International Dolline Busolo
444289
Helpage@net2000ke.com
International Medical Corps (IMC) Wendy Carson
574386
Carson@imocafrica.org
Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Bobby Waddell
577777
Bobby-waddell@lwfkenya.org
Medair Megan Mackeson
711730
Medairk@maf.or.ke
Medicos Sin Fronteras (MSF-S) Johan de Smedt
726777
Gc-msfenbo@net2000ke.com
Norwegian People's Aid Gary P. Jones
571549
Npasomalia@form-net.com
Oxfam Great Britain Emma Naylor
715003
enaylor@oxfam.org.uk
Oxfam Quebec Philippe Carette
512270
oxfamqc@africaonline.co.ke
Save the Children - UK Jan Debyser
351477
scfwksp@maf.or.ke
Tearfund Fergus Drake
714179
Tearfund-k@maf.or.ke
Trocaire Patricia Hallahan
447748
Trocaire@net2000ke.com
World Concern Nick Archer
560413
NLArcher@maf.org
World Vision Jeremy Cole
883652
Jeremy_cole@wvi.org