Kenya

Kenya drought: The time to act is now - UN Resident Coordinator

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(Wajir, 30 September 2021): Visiting Wajir today, with Government officials, donor representatives and United Nations colleagues, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Kenya, Dr Stephen Jackson, called for immediate action to respond to the severe drought that is ravaging communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) region of the country.

“People in the ASAL region are facing a dire situation,” said Dr Jackson, as he launched the humanitarian Flash Appeal for the Kenya Drought response. “I met today with women, men, and children in Wajir, who all told me how their lives are being upended by the drought. It is imperative that we act now, working closely with communities and community-led organizations, to alleviate the suffering that has been caused by back-to-back poor rainy seasons.”

The Kenya Drought Flash Appeal launched today calls for nearly US$139.5 million to deliver relief to 1.3 million people whose lives have been hardest-hit by the crisis, of which an estimated $28.5 million has already been received from donors, including $5 million from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund. The appeal brings together 45 humanitarian partners, including UN agencies, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), national NGOs and the Kenya Red Cross Society, to complement the Government’s response to the drought crisis in the ASAL region.

At the El-Nur Clinic in Wajir, Dr Jackson met Zeinab, who told the Resident Coordinator that she could not feed her children this morning and does not know if she will be able to put food on the table this evening. Many of her livestock have died because of the drought and the few that are remaining are in a very bad condition and cannot be sold in the market.

Zeinab’s story is emblematic of the situation faced by many people impacted by drought in the ASAL region, which the President of Kenya declared a national disaster on 8 September. There are now at least 2.1 million people facing severe food insecurity in the region, and this will rise to 2.4 million by the beginning of November–nearly triple the number at the same time last year. Acute malnutrition is rising, posing an imminent risk to children and pregnant and lactating women, while men are having to trek further afield to access water, food and forage, resulting in family separation and tensions between communities. Women, children and the elderly are also facing increased risks of exploitation and abuse as a result of the deteriorating situation.

“Today I saw communities and humanitarians in action, working together to deliver life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to families in desperate need,” said Dr Jackson. “I saw doctors and nurses treating children and women suffering from acute malnutrition, and livestock in poor condition receiving urgently needed feed. I also saw innovative projects, such as the Alas Group farm, where sustainable solutions are being put in place to help communities to become resilient: to thrive now, and into the future.”

Reflecting on the launch of the Flash Appeal, Dr Jackson stressed the urgent need for additional funding to enable partners to scale-up the important work already being done on the ground. “Humanitarian partners reached nearly half a million people in the ASAL region in the first seven months of 2021, in support of the Government-led response. However, much more must be done. Without additional funding, we risk jeopardizing the amazing efforts that are already underway and will certainly not be able to meet the rapidly rising needs that I have seen today.”

*** Note to editors:
Download the summary of the Flash Appeal here.

For further information, please contact: Saviano Abreu, OCHA Nairobi, +254 780 530 14, deabreuisidoro@un.org OCHA press releases are available at www.unocha.org/south-sudan or www.reliefweb.int

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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