1. Executive Summary
Kenya, alongside other countries in the Horn of Africa, has for most of 2011 faced a severe food crisis due to a climatic disaster that has become a recurring phenomenon in shorter cycles, negating efforts to reduce vulnerability. A combination of drought-induced crop failure, poor livestock conditions, rising food and non-food prices and eroded coping capacities are some of the key factors contributing to the food crisis, which has made 3.75 million people in Kenya food-insecure. In addition, those areas that experienced the worst effects of drought also face entrenched poverty, limited investment, and intermittent conflict which have further compounded the food security situation. About 1.4 million people – predominantly in the northern and north-eastern pastoral areas – were classified in the emergency phase (IPC Phase 4) following the long rains assessment in August. Some localized population centres in the south-eastern cropping lowlands in Kitui, Machakos and Mwingi districts are also classified in the emergency phase. Associated with the food crisis are disturbing malnutrition rates and disease outbreaks such as dengue fever and malaria. Food insecurity evidently also causes interruption of and complications in anti-retroviral treatment of people living with HIV, and exposes affected people to HIV transmission through heightened cases of transactional sex and sexual/genderbased violence. An estimated 385,000 children under 5 and 90,000 pregnant and lactating women are suffering from acute malnutrition. The eastern parts of Turkana have reported 37.4% global acute malnutrition which is far above the emergency threshold of 15%. These are the highest malnutrition rates recorded in the last decade.
The continual rise in fuel and food prices has further reduced household purchasing power. According to the Central Bank of Kenya the country‟s inflation has accelerated to 18.9% in October rising from 15.53% in July. Cereal prices are up to 100% higher than the five-year average thereby reducing purchasing capacity for already vulnerable populations. Inflation rates in urban slums have risen from 5.4% to 16.7% between January and August 2011, impoverishing the highly market-dependent urban population.
The scope of the crisis has prompted the Government of Kenya, and other governments in the region plus the international community, to analyse the depth of the food crisis, in addition to facilitating immediate assistance necessary for saving lives and addressing underlying drivers and long-term impacts in order to foster a constructive path to recovery. The Summit on the Horn of Africa Crisis held in Nairobi in September 2011 was one of the many forums organized to look at longer-term solutions to address the crisis. The Summit culminated in a declaration on “Ending Drought Emergencies and a Commitment to Sustainable Solutions.”
The increase in refugee flows numbering 154,450 into Dadaab and 8,132 into Kakuma since January 2011 has been accompanied by growing insecurity in and around the refugee camps in north-eastern and north-western Kenya. The recurring conflict and instability in Somalia coupled with the Horn of Africa drought has caused massive cross-border influxes at the rate of 30,000 arrivals per month in the Dadaab refugee camp alone. The arrival figures have however drastically decreased to approximately 100 per day because of increased insecurity along the Kenya/Somalia border and a halt to the registration of new asylum-seekers from Somalia in October. The overall refugee population in Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya stands at about 450,000 as of the end of September. Overall refugee and asylum-seekers in the country numbered 590,921 as of September 2011.
The five-fold increase in refugee numbers has compromised the quality of service delivery and further exacerbated existing environmental concerns such as deforestation and tensions between the host and refugee communities. The continuing influx of the refugees has strained the existing educational facilities: according to a recent inter-agency assessment of the education sector in Dadaab, the pupilto-classroom ratio stands at 113:1, while the teacher-to-pupil ratio stands at 1:85.
Whilst the Government of Kenya and humanitarian partners have extended their support to local communities, the continuous international assistance to refugees, the additional strain placed on local resources, and the perceived disparity in living standards have fuelled tensions between host and refugee communities. To alleviate the tension, a seamless linkage and engagement of humanitarian and development partners will be required in order to both provide emergency assistance and extend development assistance to hosting areas such as investing in livelihood opportunities.
Mounting insecurity along the Kenyan-Somali border and in and around the Dadaab refugee camps has constrained aid delivery and is contributing to a worsening humanitarian situation as operations have been scaled down to critical lifesaving activities only. Travel restrictions for United Nations staff are in place for travel to locations near the Somali border with authorization for only critical missions.
The political environment remains fragile with the potential for inter-communal violence and population displacement triggered by a number of key processes. These include the on-going political reform processes, the International Criminal Court investigation linked to the 2007-2008 post-election violence, and hearings of past historical injustices through the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. Overall reform processes stipulated in Agenda 4 of the National Accord and passing of associated relevant electoral laws to facilitate implementation of the new constitution remain in progress.
In line with the 2011-2013 humanitarian strategy, the focus of the Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan remains on assisting households to recover fully from recurrent shocks and hazards, through offering immediate and medium-term food and non-food interventions that seek to mitigate urgent needs while concurrently restoring livelihoods and building their resilience. Indeed the twin-track approaches (which include improving disaster risk reduction to withstand climate change) will require investment which has been particularly challenging, all the more because emergencies are taking place at a much more frequent rate. However, disaster risk reduction approaches have proved more efficient in the long term.
It is with this understanding that humanitarian partners are requesting US$763,757,858 for humanitarian response in 2012.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.