UN says nearly 3 mln Kenyans face starvation

NAIROBI, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Almost three million people in Kenya's arid northern and eastern regions desperately need food to avoid starvation, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) launched an appeal to raise $43.4 million to buy 75,000 tonnes of food for 2.7 million Kenyans going hungry after three successive crop failures caused by drought in some areas and flooding in others.

"Families have lost either their crops or livestock year after year," Holdbrook Arthur, WFP country director for Kenya said in a statement, adding that the food would be distributed to vulnerable communities over the next five months.

"People have now reached the stage where they're down to the bare minimum. This food is critical to stop the situation from getting worse, to help families stay alive and to allow them to keep hold of their few remaining cattle and food crops."

Turkana district in Kenya's far north has been hardest hit by drought, while in eastern regions seeds meant for planting had already been consumed by poor farming families.

"Patchy and sporadic rain have meant crops have not matured. The ministry of agriculture estimates that up to 50 percent of the crop will be lost in this region," the WFP statement said.

"Hunger is a constant spectre to children of the arid districts ... food shortages have started to force parents to send their children to towns to look for work, where many end up as street children."

A long drought has caused a severe decline in grain production in recent years.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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