Kenyans for Kenya: Malnutrition rates in Turkana drops to 13.7 per cent

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Some 2000 metric tonnes of Unimix imported from S. Africa, is currently being distributed to schools under the school feeding programme. Malnutrition rates in Turkana have dropped to 13.7 per cent from 37.4 per cent as a result of direct intervention by the Kenyans for Kenya Initiative, the Initiative’s steering committee has announced.

The committee also reported that 2,057 metric tonnes of Unimix has so far been distributed to 285,729 school going children in 2,381 schools in the affected areas. An additional 1900 metric tonnes, which was recently imported from S. Africa, is currently being distributed to schools in ASALs under the school feeding programme.

Some 32,901 beneficiaries also benefitted from curative and nutritional screening services and a polio campaign was carried out in 149 districts with the Kenya Red Cross being involved directly in 35 districts, as part of the Initiative’s health intervention.

By July last year, just weeks before the Kenyans for Kenya Initiative was launched, more than 3.75 million people in arid and semi-arid districts were in dire need of food assistance. Malnutrition rates were at emergency level, and more than 385,000 children below 5 years in 13 districts were suffering from acute malnutrition. The Government consequently declared the drought a National Disaster.

The committee said that in the period since the launch of the Kenyans for Kenya Initiative, some 326 metric tonnes of certified drought resistant seeds have been distributed to over 200,000 farmers while3100 families in the greater Yatta region have benefitted from 1,000 cassava cuttings each, through a collaborative venture between the Kenya Red Cross and Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) -Katumani. More than 250greenhouses were also distributed to schools and community groups across Kenya. To support school feeding and hygiene promotion, emergency water trucking interventions were also carried out. The purpose, the Committee said, is to empower communities to produce their own food as one of the ways of preventing future drought emergency.

In fulfillment of a commitment to invest part of the funds raised under the Initiative in long term sustainability projects, the Committee said the first steps towards investing the funds in three pilot long term sustainability projects in Turkana North, East Pokot and Moyale had been taken with a call for consultants to carry out environmental impact assessment and prepare designs, drawings and bill of quantities for sand dams.

The strategy is to increase community resilience to drought through strengthening and protecting livelihoods and assets.

The interventions will take an integrated approach through programming of livelihoods into health, water and sanitation and agriculture. It is anticipated that the projects will assure food security for at least 7,000 households with 2,400 in East Pokot, 2,100 in Walda (Moyale) and 2,500 in Turkana North.

The steering committee says that the Initiative has been a huge success and has set standards as one of the best audited programmes in recent times. Members, however, acknowledged that there had been challenges around the initiative and that lessons have been learnt, which would ensure similar programmes in the future are better managed for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

Regarding recent media reports to the effect that relief food meant for distribution to needy people in Turkana expired without being distributed to the beneficiaries, the committee clarified that no food, in any of the KRCS warehouses, had expired while in its custody. What some of the media could have been referring to was Unimix, which was recalled by the Society last year after its own tests revealed unacceptable levels of aflatoxin. In fact, the Unimix was already seized by the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, which supervised its destruction last week.

The Kenyans for Kenya Initiative was driven by a steering committee comprising representatives from Safaricom Limited, Kenya Red Cross Society, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Limited, Gina Din Corporate Communications and the Media owners Association.Audit firm Deloitte and Touche, assisted by Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC, with the support of volunteers from the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK), and verified the entire Kenyans for Kenya process including procurement, transport and distribution in the field. This was a unique process that has never been carried out anywhere else in the world.