Turkana district lies west of lake Turkana and borders Ethiopia to the northeast, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west, Baringo and West Pokot to the south, Samburu to the southeast and Marsabit to the east. It is the largest district in Kenya and has 17 administrative divisions. The district covers a landmass of 77,000 square kilometers and has an estimated population of 515,420 (2006 estimates prorated from 1999 census). The district has four livelihood zones namely, pastoral, agro pastoral, fisher folk and formal employment; the pastoral livelihood is the most predominant, covering more than 90% of the district.
Kerio, Turkwel, and Tarach are the major rivers in the district and all are seasonal except Kerio. The district is characterized by warm and hot climate with temperatures ranging between 240c-380c with a mean of 300c. There are two rainfall seasons - long rains which occur between April and June and the short rains which occur between Ocrober and December. The average annual rainfall ranges between 120mm and 500mm. The dry months are January to March and July to September. The rainfall is distributed on an east-west gradient with more rainfall in western parts and other areas of higher elevation. The rain falls in brief violent storm resulting in flash floods with surface runoff and potential evaporation rates being extremely high.
Emergency and food distribution (EMOP) interventions started in Turkana in August 2004 (GOK and partner NGO's) and has continued until now (February 2006), covering different areas and populations depending to need identified during regular food security assessments fielded by the Kenya Food security Steering Group (KFSSG). The highest number of beneficiaries covered under the EMOP was during the period July-August 2006, when a total of 288,170 were receiving food. This number was scaled down to 263,010 in September 2006 following a slight improvement in the food security situation after 2006 long rains. EMOP general food distribution is carried out by two NGO lead agencies - World Vision in Central and South, and Oxfam GB in North-West and North-East of Turkana. In addition to general food rations, therapeutic and supplementary feeding is also provided to malnourished children under five years and pregnant and lactating mothers, through a joint programme between WFP/UNICEF and specialized NGO's like Merlin and Samaritan Purse. A total of 51,060 MT of food was distributed between September 2004 to February 2007.