Kenya + 2 more

Kenya: MSF Launches Nutrition Programme in Turkana District

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched an emergency nutrition project in the Turkana district in northwestern Kenya on July 18. Teams are working in two areas in Turkana—Lapur and Kibish divisions—where few humanitarian agencies have been present.

Earlier in July, MSF conducted nutrition screenings in several villages in these areas and found worrying levels of malnutrition, particularly in Lapur. Teams used MUACs, a tool that measures the middle upper-arm circumference, to determine whether the children were malnourished. The percentage of malnourished children in an area that constitutes an emergency is 15 percent, while the overall average of global acute malnutrition was 23 percent from the villages where MSF screened in Lapur.

Those in settled villages appeared to be worse off than people in nomadic villages. While the results of the MSF screening cannot be extrapolated to the entire district, they were of enough concern to require an emergency intervention, with the agreement of the Kenyan Ministry of Health.

Consequently, MSF has begun running five mobile clinics that provide general healthcare to children under five years old in villages in Lapur division. These mobile clinics include an ambulatory therapeutic feeding program which has already begun treating 132 severely malnourished children. In addition, MSF is starting to support an intensive therapeutic feeding ward in the Ministry of Health district hospital in Lokitang, near the Lapur area.

MSF is also organizing targeted food distributions for acutely malnourished people in Kibish division for one month and in Lapur division for up to three months. Teams have already started a distribution of over 31,000 kg (68,343 lb) of supplementary food, targeting more than 4,000 people in Lapur, and almost 15,000 kg (33,069 lb) targeting close to 2,000 people in Kibish.


  1. From 6 June to 6 July, approximately 40,000 people arrived in Dadaab in search of humanitarian assistance and safety. As the camps are now full, most of the newly arrived refugees have been forced to settle in the outlying areas of Dagahaley, Ifo and Hagadera. Our estimation is that there are at least 25,000 people in Dagahaley outskirts and 22,000 on the outskirts of Ifo camp. These families, camped out in the desert, are living in alarmingly harsh conditions with limited access to water, shelter and food.

  2. MSF teams found extremely high malnutrition rates amongst the new arrivals - a 37.7% of global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate, with a 17.5% of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) for children aged 6 to 59 months. As a consequence, MSF admitted 320 children in their In-patient Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ITFC) in June alone. 43.3% of children aged five to 10 are malnourished.

  3. MSF is currently treating 2402 children in its Ambulatory Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ATFC) programme in Dadaab and 138 in its ITFC. 5047 children with moderate acute malnutrition are enrolled in the supplementary feeding programme.

  4. There are also unacceptable delays in the registration of newly arrived refugees. While a 15 days food ration is now provided upon arrival since July 2011, it still takes more than two months to be registered and there is no guarantee that a second food ration will be distributed. As such, MSF is not only seeing children who arrive suffering from malnutrition; we also see children who become malnourished while they are already at the overstretched camp.


  1. On arrival at the Liben camps in Ethiopia, 37% of the children under five years old screened by MSF are malnourished.

  2. MSF is currently treating 8530 children in nutritional programmes and also providing primary health care to the refugees, exhausted on arrival and affected as well by respiratory diseases and diarrhoea, main causes of morbidity. 6630 children are on therapeutic feeding programmes (ATFC), while 1,900 are getting supplementary food. 168 are in stabilisation centres (ITFC)

  3. Overcrowding. 1400 new arrivals per day in Liben in June (up to 2700 on the 28th of June). Camps were already overcrowded and beyond their original capacity (100,000 people in Liben in camps originally designed for 45,000). One year ago, two Liben camps hosted 27,000 refugees. Today, five facilities host 107,000 refugees and insufficient humanitarian assistance worsens the situation.

  4. Bottlenecks in basic humanitarian assistance. A number of problems in the registration procedure are leading to considerable delays in people getting the humanitarian assistance that is provided. This is particularly true for food distribution (aggravating their already alarming nutritional status) as well as water, sanitation or shelter provision.

Hannah Ward Press Officer Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) UK

Tel: +44 207 067 4265
Mob: +447889178472 Follow MSF UK on twitter here -