Kenya + 1 more

Kenya: Feeding the displaced

Dadaab, 100 km from the border with Somalia in the North of Kenya, is one of the oldest and most overcrowded refugee sites in the world.

Around 270,000 refugees, most of whom have fled the conflict in Somalia, are registered at Dadaab's three camps: Hagadera, Ifo and Dagahaley. Others are in the North West of Kenya in the Kakuma refugee camp. The camps are managed by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, in partnership with the Government of Kenya.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), whose operations in Kenya are supported by the Australian Government, has several major programs under way to provide food to people living in the camps in Dadaab.

The head of WFP's refugee program, Josephine Mahiga-Janabi, said the program had provided food to refugees in Kenya since 1991, when the camp was first set up in Dadaab. 'WFP is currently providing food support to about 330,000 refugees both in Dadaab and Kakuma,' she said.

One program, a school feeding project at the Friends Primary School in the Ifo camp, gives each child who attends the school a meal. Adam, a teacher at the school and also a former student, has spent 20 years in Dadaab.

'I fled from Somalia and came here as a refugee. Since then I've lived in the camp. I went to Friends Primary School and for the last four years I've taught in the school.'

Adam said enrolments had increased since the school feeding program started and, not surprisingly, that children were better able to learn when they were not hungry.

'The school feeding program has helped. Maybe half the children may not have had food at all. They gain energy and have motivation for learning. It motivates them to come to school,' Adam said.

The WFP also provides take-home rations for girls to make sure they get enough food to eat and provide an incentive for them to keep coming back to school. To address the needs of younger children, WFP has supplementary feeding programmes that target moderately malnourished children under five, caretakers with severely malnourished children under five, and women in the late stages of pregnancy and during the first six months of breast feeding.

Another WFP project, Food for Assets, helps Dadaab's women farmers learn how to grow their own crops. They're given food rations for their whole household in exchange for working on a farm three half-days a week to grow their own produce. They plant seeds and are given tools and training, and end up being able to produce their own food for their families.