Severe Malnutrition Rates Found in Kenya

Severe malnutrition rates have been found among children in at least 10 drought-prone districts in Kenya, according to a recent report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Kenya Vulnerability Update released earlier this month says that the pastoral districts of Samburu, Turkana, and Kajiado have been the worst hit, especially among children under 5 years of age. The exceptionally high rate in Turkana is attributed to the reciprocal cattle raids practiced by communities in the area.
The update, issued by the agency's early famine warning system and based on a report by UNICEF, notes that high malnutrition rates have also been reported in Machakos, Kwale, Kilifi, and Baringo districts. High malnutrition rates have been reported in the northeastern pastoral districts of Wajir and Garissa as well.

"The results show the importance of maintaining general relief distribution programs in
the pastoral areas," the agency said.

In response, World Food Program asked for a four-month extension of its emergency operations program to cover Isiolo, Mandera, Marsabit, Moyale, and Wajir districts. The program had been slated to end in mid-August. According to the USAID update, the global food kitty urgently required support for 7,000 metric tons of cereals to finance both "unresourced balance"
and the four-month extension period.

Meanwhile, World Vision Kenya recently distributed seven metric tons of UNIMIX, mainly for the feeding of children in drought-stricken Kajiado about 80 kilometers (some 50 miles) south of the capital Nairobi. The high-energy blend, which includes ground legumes, sugar, milk, and oil, was to benefit some 1,300 persons, including children under 5 years of age,
pregnant and lactating mothers, and the elderly.

The UNIMIX was purchased through a donation of Ksh 250,000 (some US$3,600) from Round Table, a local, non-political service organization of men from 18 to 40 years of age, representing many professions and trades.

World Vision Kenya is carrying out nutritional surveys in drought-hit project areas to find out the nutritional levels among children under 5 years of age and to determine the required interventions.