Kenya: Appeal for emergency food and non-food assistance

In July 2004, an emergency operation was approved to provide assistance to 2.3 million drought affected and food insecure people. The operation included provision of food relief and emergency interventions in health, nutrition, water, sanitation, education, agriculture and livestock sectors. The operation was expected to end in early 2005 but continued poor rainfall distribution, during 2004 and 2005, necessitates the continuation and expansion of emergency assistance. The 2005 short-rains, which normally extend from October to December, have failed. Food insecurity in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas has deteriorated and more people today need emergency assistance than when the emergency operation started. An estimated 3.5 million pastoral and farming people, including 500,000 school children require emergency aid.
A total of 396,525 MT of additional food aid assistance, valued at US $221,536,211, will be required to avoid mass suffering for the next 12 months. Donor pledges are urgently required to avoid a break in food-aid supplies in March 2006. In addition, there is need to support health, nutrition, water and sanitation and education sectors. While the Government and partners are continuing with the response, an additional US $11,817,565 is needed, over the next six months, to provide targeted feeding to malnourished and vulnerable children, rapidly expand basic health outreach services, accelerate immunization coverage as well as repair and rehabilitate critical water sources so as to provide the minimum quantities of water needed for human and livestock consumption. Additionally there is need for livestock off-take, emergency veterinary health services and support to farmers in marginal agricultural areas. Efforts are required to ensure that educational facilities are well resourced so that children, who may otherwise drop out due to migration of families or involvement in other chores, can continue with their education.

The short-rains have failed. Nearly 3.5 million rural pastoral and farming people, including 500,000 school children, in 25 districts are affected and in need of emergency assistance to sustain lives and protect livelihoods. Following five consecutively failed or poor seasons, vulnerable populations are running out of coping options. Without an immediate expansion of the current emergency food and non-food aid operation, the humanitarian crisis and emergency relief requirements will deepen. The Government of Kenya (GoK) and its partners must act now to avoid a massive humanitarian catastrophe.

A drought emergency operation was approved on 31 July 2004 to provide emergency food and non-food assistance to 2.3 million people affected by drought in Kenya for six months. The operation was extended for an additional six months in March 2005 and again in September 2005, following assessments that determined that food insecurity necessitated continued relief assistance. In September 2005, food security indicators and the short-rains forecast suggested an improvement in the food security situation. It was anticipated at this time that the emergency operation would draw to a close in early 2006, on the assumption that the short-rains would be normal.

In November 2005, the National Early Warning System alerted the GoK and partners that the long-rains were poorly distributed. Acting on assessment reports from several pastoral districts, food-aid deliveries were increased to four districts. By mid-December, it was clear that the short-rains had failed, and the GoK and its partners issued an alert to donors requesting increased emergency food and non-food assistance. In January 2006, a joint GoK, UN and NGO food security assessment was undertaken to determine the geographic extend and humanitarian depth of the failed rains.

Pastoralists livelihoods across the country are severely threatened as the very basis of their food security system, livestock, are dying in unprecedented numbers due to lack of water, browse and pasture. Thousands of head of livestock have already died and many thousands more may succumb, as the effects of drought intensify. Rates of global acute malnutrition (GAM) have risen steeply in the northeast of the country to between 18% and 30%, significantly higher than the WHO threshold (15%) indicating a critical situation. Incidence of malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections are on the increase in some areas. Water is scarce and schools are closing down due to lack of water too. Children are dropping out from schools as families migrate or they are expected to take up other chores.

Marginal farming households in eastern Kenya haven’t fared any better than pastoralists. Despite its name, the short-rains season is considered the most reliable cultivation period for the eastern half of the country. Crops have wilted and died. In some locations, seeds never germinated because not one drop of rainfall fell. The food security situation for these households, following successive poor agricultural seasons, is abysmal and will most certainly worsen as they use whatever resources they have to feed their families.

The failure of the short rains in Kenya has a regional context as similar drought conditions are occurring in neighboring Somalia and southern Ethiopia. The vulnerability of mobile pastoralist communities has increased, as they are finding it increasingly difficult to find water and pasture in the region, including across international borders. As drought conditions persist, resource related conflicts among pastoral groups are likely to increase.

Further exacerbating the food security situation is the real likelihood that the coming long rains (late February to June) will be much below normal and may even fail in the eastern half of the country. Climate forecasts from international authorities and local/regional meteorological departments all indicate that the long rains will be poorly distributed. These forecasts suggest a worse case scenario: the failure of 2006 long rains in eastern Kenya.


An estimated 3,500,000 people – 3,000,000 general population and 500,000 school children – require an estimated 396,525 MT of food aid between March 2006 and February 2007. The determination of populations requiring food aid assistance for 2006 is based on the short rains assessment results and considers the long-rains climate forecasts. Depending on the long-rains performance, the beneficiary numbers will either expand or contract around the base number of 3.5 million.

The Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) urges WFP and its donor partners to immediately provide in-kind or cash resources to cover the associated costs of in-kind GoK contributions or alternatively consider local purchases of food aid, as supply in Western Kenya is still considered favorable, given the just concluded long-rains harvest.

The KFSSG and its partners stress the importance of maintaining the single food pipeline concept. Further, the KFSSG stresses the importance of following the Community Based Targeting and Distribution (CBTD) approach for the identification of beneficiaries, implemented through NGOs under the overall supervision of the District Steering Groups. Managed by appointed lead NGOs, CBTD is crucial to ensure ownership of the process at the community level.

The districts that are targeted to receive emergency food assistance under this appeal can be broken down into four broad categories of intervention.

General Food Distribution will be the main targeting mechanism for the first 6 months of the emergency operation. It will be targeted to the 25 districts identified as needing assistance. Rations provided will make-up for the household food gap identified by the assessment and this may differ by livelihood zone.

Food For Work (FFW) will continue in the districts where there are ongoing programmes and where the beneficiaries are interested in asset creation as a food targeting mechanism. The beneficiaries under FFW will remain relatively small, in comparison to 3.5 million beneficiary number, until the second half of the emergency operation when it is expected that FFW activities will expand as a phased strategy towards closing out the need for emergency food aid.

Supplementary Feeding is recommended to 381,000 pregnant and lactating mothers and children under five years of age, estimated to be about 26% of the most affected populations in pastoralist areas.

Expanded School Feeding Programme (ESFP) will continue to be implemented in Eastern and Coastal districts where drought impacts have deepened in order to cushion school children against the impact of household food insecurity and to encourage them to stay in school. It is estimated that 500,000 children will be covered under ESFP.

Food Aid Resource Requirements

The total food requirement for the period 1 March 2006 to 28 February 2007 for all programmes is 396,525 MT. Only 1,499 MT of food is expected to be in stock as a carryover after February 2006 distributions. This means that there is a net requirement of 395,026, having a total cost value of US$221,536,211, to be resourced. As the monthly food need exceeds 30,000 MT, donors, including the Government of Kenya, are urged to provide in-kind or cash resources as a matter of urgency. The World Food Programme’s food-aid pipeline is currently exhausted and without significant pledges, the agency will be unable to distribute food after March 2006.

Gross and Net Food Aid Requirements (MT)
Expanded School
Net Requirements
275 580
14 625
290 205
290 205
47 927
3 900
51 827
1 089
50 738
Veg Oil
15 556
16 044
15 634
2 316
2 316
2 316
36 133
36 133
36 133
341 379
36 133
19 013
396 525
1 499
395 026


In addition to food aid, the assessment found significant need for emergency interventions in water, health and nutrition, education, agriculture and livelihood support.

Agriculture and Livestock

Seed for Drought Affected Farmers. The most urgent issue facing farmers in the drought affected marginal agricultural areas is adequate access to appropriate seed resources. After successive poor seasons, farmers have become impoverished, and do not have seed saved from the recently failed harvest to plant during the next season. The Ministry of Agriculture’s policy is to promote drought resistant crop varieties in the semi-arid districts of the country, and this policy will be followed such that farmers receive the most appropriate seeds for their agro-environmental conditions. The estimated cost of this intervention is US $1,300,000.

Livestock Off-Take. As the drought has progressed across the pastoral districts, the Government of Kenya and its partners have tried to focus on livestock off-take, to reduce herd numbers and provide a cash resource transfer to pastoralists before their animals die. There is an urgent need to off-take an additional 600,000 animals. The estimated cost for this intervention is US $8,000,000.

Provision of feed to sustain core-breeding herds. For herd and livelihood recovery, it is vital that core breeding herds are maintained through the drought period, which means that action needs to be taken immediately to protect these livestock. Provision of feed hay to the breeding herd is urgently required. The estimated cost of this intervention is US $200,000.

Emergency Livestock Health Support. To ensure that the poor pastoralists have access to essential veterinary drugs to prevent further spread of preventable diseases and to control the existing outbreaks. The provision of preventative and curative measures for an estimated 650,000 heads of cattle will reduce the number afflicted. This will reduce mortality and help maintain productivity when the affected households are in particular need of milk and meat while also maintaining household asset base. This will involve the provision of funds to purchase foot and mouth disease vaccines for animals in districts with an outbreak, targeting a total of 250,000 cattle. CBPP and CCPP treatment shall cover about 570,000 cattle and 3.5 million small stock (shoats). De-worming will also be required to help build immunity against diseases. The estimated cost of this intervention is US $330,000.

Summary Table for Livestock and Agriculture
Total Requirement/
Shortfall (US$)
Provision of seeds to drought affected farmers
De-stocking in pastoral areas
Emergency Animal Health
Provision of fodder to breeding herds


It is estimated that about 4.5 million people are affected by unreliable and/or severe shortage of water. Of these 500,000 require the provision of emergency water services. In addition 915 schools require water storage tanks, 798 schools require water trucking to sustain 200,000 children in school and allow for preparation of school lunches. The worst affected districts are Mandera and Wajir.

The key objectives of the emergency water interventions will be to reduce the distance to water for both livestock and humans, ensuring permanent water sources remain operational with breakdowns attended to within eight hours and providing water to schools and strategic health facilities.

The Government has taken the lead, allocated additional resources and is actively working with partners to address the water crisis. However recent information from districts indicate that the needs are outstripping what is currently possible with available resources. US dollars 8.8 million are required for emergency water trucking to feeding centres, schools and health facilities, purchase of fuel, spare parts and supplies for functioning of water sources, opening of 20 contingency boreholes and drilling of replacement boreholes, supply of water treatment equipment, chemicals, household filters, promotion of hygiene and sanitation as well as removal/incineration of carcasses around water points.

Health and Nutrition

There are an estimated 73,000 children under five years old and 7,200 pregnant and lactating mothers suffering from moderate and severe malnutrition in the 10 most affected districts: Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Ijara, Tana River, Isiolo, Marsabit, Moyale, Samburu and Turkana. In addition, there are some 460,386 children who require access to basic quality health care. An additional US $ 2,379,740 is required over the next 6 months for the following key interventions:

Targeted supplementary feeding. In order to treat the malnourished children, resources are required to institute and expand therapeutic feeding programmes in the most vulnerable districts. Funds are required for supporting additional trained Ministry of Health staff who will be deployed to the worst affected areas or for technical NGOs, for purchase of specialized nutritional products as well as technical support for monitoring adherence to proper protocols. For the moderately malnourished children regular supplementary food distribution is recommended through health facilities where possible. Communities and families need to be simultaneously sensitized on key care practices that will help in rehabilitating the children and assist to prevent recurring malnourishment. WFP and UNICEF will ensure close collaboration between supplementary feeding and general food distributions.

Improved Access to Basic Health Services. There is an immediate and urgent need for outreach mobile clinics and services in Wajir, Mandera, parts of Garissa, Tana River, Isiolo and Marsabit. To undertake these funds are required to purchase emergency medical supplies, de-worming tablets, insecticide treated nets and re-treatment kits. To boost immunization, accelerated outreach services must be undertaken in hard to reach areas and where routine coverage in low.

Nutrition and disease surveillance. In order to prioritize interventions and act on early warning information, the Ministry of Health will strengthen the collection of ongoing nutritional surveillance data that can be used with routine data collected through Arid Lands. The data will be used in conjunction with information from the routine.

Health Information Management System. Concerted efforts will be needed on disease surveillance and early detection of threats and outbreaks given the very vulnerable health and nutrition situation of affected population as the risk of cross-border transmission of disease.


All efforts must be harnessed to ensure that children do not miss out on educational opportunities in times of stress. Key interventions to address the problem include expansion of school feeding programme, provision of water to schools, increased bursaries for secondary school children, ensuring sufficient supplies in boarding schools as well as quality education and psychosocial support for children so that they are motivated to remain in schools. The Ministry of Education has already disbursed additional funds to start on key interventions – the current shortfall in the sector is US $637,825 for purchase of boarding school supplies, training of education managers and teachers on psychosocial support as well as completing the water and sanitation sector through the purchase of water storage containers.

Summary Table Water, Sanitation, Health, Nutrition and Education
Requirement (US$)
contribution (US$)
Funds through
partners (US$)
Current Shortfall (US$)
Water and Sanitation
Health and Nutrition

*Please note in discussion with the PS, Water, we shall treat contributions from OFDA, ECHO, DFID etc. as partner contributions.

Support to Coordination

Effective coordination and food security analysis through the Kenya Food Security Meeting is essential to ensure that needs are identified and humanitarian responses are appropriate and timely. Support to the KFSM/KFSSG through the establishment of a food security analysis unit within the Office of the President would enhance current analysis of risk and response in Kenya, together with providing much needed secretariat support to the existing structure. Decentralization of food security assessments to the district level, and the required capacity building would be central to this initiative. A total of US$ 650,000 is required to establish the unit, and cover running costs for one year.


The KFSSG believes that while there is an urgent need for continued emergency food and non-food assistance, there is an equally urgent need to address the underlying reasons why so many thousands of Kenyans are unable to cope with cyclical drought. Preliminary historical trend analysis attests to the fact that high malnutrition rates in vulnerable groups, often a characteristic in the Kenya emergency context, is due to a combination of food and non-food related factors. Investment in infrastructure, health, water and sanitation as well as the protection of livelihoods are critical to prevent a humanitarian crisis where life-saving and rehabilitative health and nutrition interventions are required. In addition, it is recommended that food security analysis is enhanced through the development of a food security analysis unit within the Office of the President, and supported by partners. This will allow a more sophisticated analysis of the acute and chronic food security issues facing Kenyans today. Indeed, there is a real fear that recurrent food security emergencies in the ASAL Districts sidetrack both the Government and donors from focusing on development initiatives aimed at making people less vulnerable to food crises.

The KFSSG strongly believes that emergency interventions should, as much as possible, support ongoing development approaches. At the same time, the Government and donors need to consider the reality that drought and poor rainfall will occur with regular frequency in the ASAL districts and that development initiatives need to be flexible enough to be expanded when there is a drought, to absorb the additional demand for external support.

This Government of Kenya Appeal for Emergency Assistance is presented in collaboration with the World Food Programme, Unicef, FAO and UNDP.