Mandera Central is one of the districts that form the North Eastern Province (NEP) and is one of the 19 districts gazetted as part of the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands of Kenya (ASAL). The district is located in the North West horn of Kenya bordered by Mandera East District and Somalia to the east, Mandera West District and Wajir North District to the west, Wajir District to the south and Ethiopia to the north. The town of El Wak is the District headquarter, which administratively consists of 5 divisions including El Wak, Shimbir Fatuma, Wargadud, Qalanqalesa and Kotulo.
The main livelihood activity in the district is pastoralism and being predominantly arid, the district experiences chronic food insecurity and high incidences of malnutrition. Predictable rainy and dry seasons can no longer be counted upon to provide adequate dry season grazing and water for pastoral populations, whose resilience is increasingly eroded by broader economic factors in the region. Food aid continues to be a key source of food for a majority of the population. The district is predominantly inhabited by one clan ‘Garre’ with 2 major sub clans namely.
Save the Children UK (SCUK) operates in all the 5 divisions. Within the four divisions there are a total of 7 GOK health facilities including El Wak district hospital. The projected population for the survey area is 64,9161. The District is geographically isolated from the rest of the country with it being characterized with poor infrastructure and thus poor access to services. The area is prone to extreme climatic conditions characterized by successive droughts and floods leading to chronic food insecurity. This has rendered the population reliant on food aid.
The security in the district is volatile since the incursion of the Kenyan Army into Somalia.