Kenya Situation Report 04 May 2000

In northern Kenya, over 4 million people are at risk of starvation. Currently, more than 700,000 people, including 100,000 children under the age of five, are in urgent need of supplemental food, health care, and clean water.
The worst hit area is the Turkana district, located in northwestern Kenya. An estimated 250,000 people who live in Turkana are struggling to find food and water. Further west, along the Ethiopian border, families in the Kenyan district of Moyale face a similarly threatening situation, as well as those in Marsabit (south of Moyale) and Mandera (in the northwestern corner of Kenya).

Northern Kenya is often referred to as the Rift Valley, known for its usually rich maize-producing plains. The valley supplies food for the entire population of Kenya, an estimated 30 million people. However, rainfall has been below average and low crop production has pushed food prices beyond the reach of most families. Drought conditions have also dried up pasture and water used for livestock.

UNICEF's Response

Children, women, and the elderly are suffering most in Kenya. Poor infrastructure is making the delivery of humanitarian relief to affected areas a slow and difficult process. Additionally, recent conflicts with bordering neighbors Somalia and Ethiopia has created an insecure situation for humanitarian aid workers. Tensions are rising as Ethiopian and Somali families in search of food cross into Kenya, depleting what few food, water, and health resources remain in a country already unable to care for its own people.

Health and Nutrition:A health and nutritional survey is being planned for several districts in northern Kenya. In the meantime, over 700 tons of UNIMIX supplementary food (a special formula of maize, beans, sugar, oils, and essential vitamins for severely malnourished children) and 15 emergency health and medicine kits to benefit over 300,000 people are on order. UNICEF is also providing oral rehydration salts, used to treat and prevent deadly diarrhea and dehydration caused by drinking contaminated water from ponds and rivers. Plans are on-going for vaccination campaigns to protect children and women from communicable diseases that often occur in emergencies, such as measles and tuberculosis.

Water and Sanitation: As the lead water and sanitation organization in the Horn of Africa, UNICEF is providing emergency water tanks (large water containers) and jerrycans for individual families (each can holds about 2.6 gallons of drinking water and is easy to carry in emergency situations). UNICEF will also participate in the reconstruction or repair of wells and handpumps.

Education and Special Protection: UNICEF is working in coordination with other United Nations agencies and local non-governmental organizations to ensure that children's rights to education and protection from exploitation (especially child labor, which often occurs in emergencies when families are in need of extra income) or trauma caused by watching loved ones die from disease or starvation.

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