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Kenya: Humanitarian update - Feb 2007


This report is based on information received from the UN agencies in Kenya, international NGOs, Kenya Red Cross Society and other Humanitarian agencies in the country.

1.0 General Overview:

The acute phase of emergency humanitarian assistance in Kenya is diminishing. The current crisis hotspot is the border area between Somalia and Kenya and this is mainly due to restricted access to Somali populations across the border. Flood waters have largely subsided but the impact of population displacement and the damage to infrastructure is still being felt. The Rift Valley Fever epidemic is moving westward away from the north eastern pastoral districts with the focus for new cases being on Baringo District. The food security impact of the RVF is still placing a heavy burden on the populations of the northeast who trying to recover from a series of overlapping hazards. Forced displacement in Mt. Elgon has also stabilised although more than 32,000 persons have yet to return to their homes and have difficulties accessing needed basic social services; humanitarian and protection needs are acute in the area. A meeting of technical experts in food security has elaborated a draft mapping of food insecurity in Kenya and have highlighted the north eastern pastoral districts and some of the coastal areas as being in humanitarian emergency while other parts of Eastern province, Rift Valley and Western are in acute food and livelihood crisis.


(Source of map below is ALRMP/KFSSG, Graphics: FEWS NET Kenya)


1.1 Emergency operations

The bi-annual rain assessment held in Kenya immediately after the short and long rains respectively, commenced on 5th February and is ended on 23rd February 2007. The short rain assessment was delayed by almost a month when the heavy rains experienced in the last three months of 2006 caused devastating infrastructure damage and marooned some districts from the rest of the country. The joint assessment teams will assess the impact of rains on food security, and consequently the effects of floods and Rift Valley Fever which further exacerbated the humanitarian situation in the drought affected districts. The eight teams visited 32 districts which were affected by both drought and floods.

The recommendations from the short rains assessments will decide the scale and scope of future WFP/GoK Emergency Operations (EMOP). Consideration will be given to the possible introduction of alternative concepts of food aid i.e. strengthening food for work, introduction of food for cash programmes, etc. School feeding and supplementary feeding will continue as before. In addition, WFP will undertake an independent evaluation of the EMOP in March 2007. A preparatory team was in Nairobi in February to finalize the Terms of Reference for the evaluation.

1.2 Health and Epidemics

On 19th February, the Government of Kenya lifted the ban on the slaughter of animal in northeastern districts of Garissa, Ijara, Mandera and Wajir. The ban on animal movement, slaughter and sale had been imposed mid December 2006 following the outbreak of Rift Valley Fever, which affected more than 20 pastoral districts. The disease, which has so far killed more than 160 people and an unknown number of animals, has caused a drop in meat consumption. According to statistics, in the last two months, the country has lost Sh.7 billion revenue from sale of red meat. The Ministry of Livestock with its partners continue with animal vaccination in affected districts and areas that are at high risk of RVF. Recent focus has been on Baringo district which has reported 11 deaths, and 40 suspected cases. In Naivasha, cows were reported to have died from symptoms similar to RVF.

In Eldoret, African Swine Fever has been confirmed as the cause of death for more than 60 pigs in one day raising concern in the habitats of the town. Tentative measures have been taken and the situation is now under control.

1.3 Kenya-Somalia Border

On 7th February 2007, the Kenya National Security Committee approved cross-border passage of humanitarian assistance into Somalia via Mandera District. This came a week after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a Note Verbale to the Resident Coordinator on 26th January, informing of the Government’s decision to allow humanitarian relief aid across the border by road. Although there were some delays in effecting the directives, on 9th February, 39 WFP contracted trucks with 1,122 MT of food crossed into Somalia through El Wak. NGO consignments have also crossed over i.e. COSV’s with 162 MT of UNIMIX. On 18th February, 7 trucks with 100MT of UNICEF’s NFI crossed over at Mandera. Despite initial mis-understandings between CARE and local authorities at Mandera border, a consignment of almost 10,000MT of food has been approved to cross into Somalia as of 19th February 2007. The Kenya-Somalia Logistics cluster is considering enhanced coordination of border crossings for greater efficiency.

The situation in southern Somalia remains precarious despite concerted efforts by AU and IGAD to see to it that peace keepers have been deployed to the country. So far, only 4,000 troops have been pledged and troop deployment should begin by March 1st. Given the continuing instability within Somalia, it is unlikely that the border will reopen soon and the GoK has requested the humanitarian community to assist the affected persons within Somalia. There are fears of increased insecurity in Kenya or of an upsurge in the cross border movement of arms and armed elements. A massive influx of refugees could give rise to serious logistic and security challenges.

1.4 Mt. Elgon Clashes & Displacement

A joint GoK, UNICEF and World Vision assessment mission to Mt. Elgon took place on 13th to 16th February 2007. Community members have blamed the escalation of the situation on bad politics fuelled by clanism. Cases of sexual abuse and exploitation are on the rise. Cheptais Health Centre reported three rape cases of which one was of a 14 year old primary school pupil, who was allegedly raped by security personnel. Following death threats by the perpetrators, those affected are unwilling to report to authorities.

Torched houses (over 1,122) and burnt farms are an indication of the horrible implications of the clashes on households. Most of the affected families have thus moved to stay with other relatives, friends and in shopping centres in fear of attacks. According to a 21 February report from the Kenya Red Cross Society, 32,361 people have been displaced while 89 people have lost their lives in the land clashes in Mt. Elgon. Diseases such as pneumonia, malaria and enteric fever are on the rise in children and elderly people following exposure to the cold. Food prices have drastically increased making it impossible for some families to afford their daily basic consumption needs. Some children have been forced out of school to support their families.

1.5 Strategic Humanitarian Framework for the UN in Kenya

The UNCT is in the process of developing a Strategic Humanitarian Framework for Kenya. Vulnerability levels are increasing in the country even as the frequency and intensity of climate-related emergencies are on the rise and populations are being hit by overlapping crises. The goal of the framework is that vulnerable societies, communities and households in Kenya are resilient, have improved ability to withstand recurrent shocks and hazards. The overall objective is to address the needs of the vulnerable groups in a joint and holistic manner through emergency response, mitigation of disaster risks and sustainable recovery. Close collaboration with the Government of Kenya is necessary to ensure that national policies and programmes adequately address the needs of the vulnerable populations.

2.0 Sectoral Response

a) Protection:

Despite the closure of the Kenya-Somalia border, registration and screening are being carried out for those asylum seekers who had previously arrived at the camps. However, those who arrived after the closure of the border have been listed and will be provided with food aid and other assistance until their status is regularized. A temporary police post has been erected to allow for relocation of refugees to Ifo II. NRC has officially commenced operational activities and are engaged in construction in Ifo II. 950 bundles of construction poles will be diverted from Hagadera camp.

There has been an increase in adult measles cases in the Dadaab refugee camps with twelve cases now being reported. Those affected are currently kept under isolation awaiting WHO directives on treatment protocol and way forward. Various interventions to reduce under-5 malnutrition in the camps are being strengthened. The technical force continues to meet regularly to devise new measures to address the situation.

Three tents (one for school and two for hospital) have been delivered to Ifo II for establishment of temporary facilities. Three school tents have been earmarked to accommodate approximately 300 school going children in Ifo II. CARE and UNHCR will further analyze teacher recruitment and levels of children to be moved. WFP has thus been requested to extend its school feeding programme to Ifo II. Recently, a 250 KVA generator was delivered to Dadaab.

b) Food security:

Food insecurity remains precarious for pastoralists in north eastern districts as households struggle with income losses incurred following multiple disasters such as drought, floods and subsequent outbreak of Rift Valley Fever. In January 2007, WFP distributed an estimated 26,500MT of assorted food to 2.9 million drought/flood affected people in the country. It should be noted that, this was part of the November and December food allocations (cycles) in some districts, and part of January allocations in other districts. In the same month, a total of 4,315 MT of mixed commodities were distributed to 252,288 refugees with an average kilocalorie value of 2,028 or 94% of daily requirement. WFP also supports supplementary feeding and HIV/AIDS programmes countrywide.

WFP’s Special Operation which provided air logistic support for the flood response to north-eastern and coastal districts ended on 31st January 2007. During the three months it was operational, some 303,500 beneficiaries were reached with helicopter deliveries and airdrops. The aircrafts also provided logistic support to the Government authorities to respond to RVF.

c) Water and Sanitation:

Nine existing water supply points along the Tana River and all water supplies in Garissa except for Masalani water supply were damaged by the floods during the short rain season. In Kwale two sections of Mzima and Marere pipelines which supply water to Mombasa were also damaged. In Kilifi and Malindi, Baricho water pipeline was washed away in four sections and road bridges were buried. The pipelines have already been repaired as the bridges were rebuilt. The dykes on River Nyando and River Nzoia in western part of Kenya were also breached due to high pressure.

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation has begun reconstruction of dyke embankments on the Nzoia and Nyando rivers. Repairs on the water supplies along the Tana River have started under the leadership of Ministry of Water and Irrigation. Wescoord priority list of interventions for a period of 90 days involves provision of safe drinking water, proper sanitation and use of good hygiene. Mzima pipeline in Kwale has been repaired.

UNICEF provided water treatment chemicals and sanitation facilities to all districts affected by floods to combat spread of water borne diseases. Other Humanitarian Agencies such as GAA, CARE, OXFAM, Save the Children, Kenya Red Cross etc also played a huge part in water and sanitation sector. For example GAA supplied Kwale district with 4 million chlorine tablets and 10,000 collapsible jerry cans when cholera was reported in the district.

d) Health:

RVF situation has stabilized in the country over the past two weeks. The crisis is now moving towards the west with Baringo district being the latest epicentre. As of 20th February 2007, 151 people had lost their lives to the disease, while 628 suspected cases reported countrywide. WHO has provided technical and financial support for the national surveillance UNIT in a move to combat the disease. Current interventions include: case management, enhanced surveillance, community mobilization/public health education, vector control i.e. through spraying of houses, and veterinary intervention: ban on slaughter, movement of animals and animal vaccinations.

Concerns have been raised over the suspected outbreak of measles in West Pokot District and partly in Dadaab camps. A total of 189 suspected cases with 5 deaths have so far been reported in West Pokot. WHO supported investigation in which 60% of cases were zero doses. Currently, cross border surveillance and contact tracing and case management are ongoing. In addition, 3 cases of suspected Meningococcal Meningitis have been reported in West Pokot and Kakuma refugee camp in Turkana of which 2 were confirmed. No deaths have been reported so far and all cases were reported to have recently travelled to South Sudan or northern Uganda, areas that are battling Meningitis outbreaks.

WHO, UNICEF and Ministry of Health conducted a door to door vaccination campaign against polio in 28 most likely to be affected districts from 17th to 21st February 2007. This follows the discovery of two polio cases in the country at Dadaab late last year. Kenya has been polio free for more than 20 years and this discovery poses a threat to the whole nation. UNICEF is in the process of mobilizing money for a countrywide vaccination exercise from neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Uganda in order to buffer against possible cross border spread of the disease.

For more information:

UNDP Kenya Office, Block Q, United Nations Office in Nairobi, Gigiri, P.O.Box 30218-00100 Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: (254-20) 7625522 and 7625155. Fax: (254-20) 7624661. Email: Jeanine Cooper at cooper1@un.org or Mercy Manyala at manyalam@un.org

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