• Since the declaration of the drought emergency by the Government of Kenya in February, humanitarian partners are working together with national authorities to scale up response activities targeting vulnerable people and families in the counties most affected by the drought.
• Over 1, 2 million people were reached in March through WFP, and Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) food and cash programmes.
• The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has approved an allocation of $10.3 million enabling UN Agencies and partners to initiate live-saving interventions in the sectors of Nutrition, Health, Child Protection, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Livelihoods
• Since the launch of the Flash Appeal in March, almost USD 30 million has been mobilised against the total requirement of USD 166 million.
• The IFRC launched its revised Emergency Appeal seeking approximately USD 25 million to respond to increased needs.
• Humanitarian actors developed a Humanitarian Pillar Contingency Plan for the up-coming national elections to be held in August 2017.
On 10 February, the Government of Kenya declared a national drought emergency, with 23 of the 47 counties affected and in need of humanitarian assistance. This declaration is a result of the severe drought that has affected the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) of Kenya caused by the below average performance of the 2016 short and long rains. This is the second consecutive rainfall season with widespread below-average rainfall in Kenya and diminished food production has exhausted people’s capacity to cope with another shock. As a result, an estimated 2.6 million people are acutely food insecure, which is more than triple since February 2016 (640,000). The Government has warned that this figure may surge to 4 million by mid-April.
While the poor performance of the long rains in 2016 led to moderate to severe drought conditions developing in parts of Kenya, the Short Rains Assessment (SRA) indicated a deteriorating situation, classifying 10 counties to be in the alert phase and an additional 13 counties to be at alarm phase of drought.1 Widespread crop failure has affected farming and agro-pastoral communities especially in the north-west, northeast and the coastal strip of Kenya, where poor moisture conditions prevented planting and stifled early crop growth. Crop production is up to 70 per cent below the five-year average and the food insecurity is worsening in most ASAL counties. Food prices are high because of poor regional and national harvests as well as inflation, which is constraining food access especially in drought-affected areas. Terms of trade are declining sharply for pastoralists, contributing to rising food insecurity and malnutrition. Livestock prices are falling as body condition declines and this is expected to continue as the condition of livestock deteriorates. Additionally, drought-related livestock deaths have been reported in ten counties in February.
The rate of malnutrition is above emergency levels in some areas while other parts have serious acute malnutrition levels. Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) rate is above 15% in ten counties, and above 25% in four of these. Further analysis indicates low dietary intake and household level food insecurity, coupled with high disease burden and localized outbreaks of cholera (Mandera,
Marsabit, Wajir and Tana River) as some of the reasons attributing to higher rates of malnutrition. A mass screening by UNICEF in a hot spot area of Kibish in North Turkana, revealed that 55 per cent of the screened children were identified as acutely malnourished. Cases of cholera have been reported in Tana North with a total of 252 cases and 5 deaths (CFR = 1.9%) of which 41cases (16%) are laboratory confirmed. There are also unconfirmed measles cases in six counties with 49 cases being reported. Kala azar is also reported from Marsabit and Isiolo counties with 118 cases so far.
The drought has also had a major impact on water resources, where 30 per cent of rural water points are nonfunctional resulting in a five-fold increase in water prices leaving some 2.6 million people in urgent need of safe water.
Households are largely – and unseasonably – dependent on boreholes in drought-affected areas, with most other water sources having run dry. Pastoralists report having to travel longer distances to reach water sources, further weakening their remaining livestock.
The Kenya Meteorological Department reported that rainfall across most parts of the country was highly depressed. The March to May ‘long rains’ are already marked by very late onset in several areas. However, the peak of the rain season, in April, is likely to see near-average rainfall across most of Kenya, though eastern Kenya is likely to experience poorly distributed, depressed rainfall.
A dimension to also monitor is the Kenya general elections, which the country will conduct in August 2017. While the country has experienced violence with varying impact in previous elections, there is need to continue monitoring the situation as the upcoming elections have shown signs of intense competition that could result in violent conflicts. The Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, through NDOC, initiated a contingency planning process for the four pillars. These include Early Warning and Prevention Pillar led by the Coordinator of National Steering Committee (NSC) for Peace and Conflict Management; Security and Safety Pillar led by National Police Service; Humanitarian Pillar led by the Kenya Humanitarian Partners Team supported by UN-OCHA; Mass Casualty pillar lead by Ministry of Health and representation from MoH and Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). The purpose of this planning process is to ensure peaceful elections by implementing various prevention, preparedness and response measures to any potential humanitarian needs arising from election-related violence. A total of USD 33 million is required for this plan (USD 4.9 million for preparedness activities, USD 27 million) for potential response to meet the needs of some 400,000 people for three months. Key in the contingency planning process are eight decentralised humanitarian coordination hubs to ensure better coordination, collaboration and complementarity of preparedness and response interventions by humanitarian actors in support to Kenyan authorities in those regions likely to require humanitarian response. Additionally, these coordination hubs will be aligned geographically to the identified electoral risk map particularly the medium and high-risk counties and to the operational presence and capacity of hub lead/focal points and co-leads as well as the Kenya Red Cross regional coordination.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.