The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has revised its drought appeal to cater for 1 million people facing starvation, an amendment that will now require Ksh 2.5 billion. The previous drought appeal sought Ksh 1 billion to support 340,786 people.
This follows a dramatic increase in the number number of people now in need of food assistance, which has reached 3 million – well over double the number recorded in December 2016. This escalation shows no sign of slowing down, with the government indicating that this figure could climb to 4 million in the coming weeks.
In response, KRCS and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have moved with speed to revise their emergency relief efforts.
“The situation is getting worse every day. Malnutrition rates among children are steadily climbing. Children are getting sick, and livelihoods of families have been decimated following the loss of thousands of their livestock,” said Dr Abbas Gullet, Secretary General, KRCS.
“It is more and more difficult for people to access water – people are having to travel for up to three times as long just to get water for their family.This is an emergency that will not improve without help. We are calling on our partners to urgently support,” added Dr. Gullet.
Latest surveys from the areas worst-affected by the drought show that there are more than 340,000 children under the age of five who are acutely malnourished and in need of immediate support. Malnutrition rates are above the emergency threshold of 15 per cent in many parts of the country, climbing as catastrophically high as 32 per cent in Mandera in the north-east. There are also 37,000 pregnant and lactating women who are not getting the nutrition they desperately need.
The expanded operation focuses on cash transfers; health and nutrition; livelihoods strengthening; water, sanitation and hygiene, and; food security. It will build on work that has been underway for months. So far, KRCS has provided more than 13,000 families in areas hit hard by the drought with unconditional cash transfers, a response mechanism that empowers recipients to address their needs in the most efficient and dignified way possible.
In addition, nearly 20,000 people have benefited from an innovative scheme whereby the Red Cross purchases livestock from pastoralist communities, and then returns the meat to them, bolstering income and access to food. Nearly 11,500 families (about 66,000 individuals) have been supported with more traditional emergency food aid.
“We are running out of words to describe the situation in affected parts of Kenya, and across the region,” said Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, IFRC Regional Director for Africa. “Our message is simple: humanitarian organizations need resources to respond at the scale that is needed. If we don’t, then thousands of people may die, and children will be affected for the rest of their lives. And we won’t be able to say “we didn’t know,” continued Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré.