In 2017, Kenya faced multiple humanitarian challenges which included the severe drought, disease outbreaks, refugee influx, flash flooding, industrial strikes by health workers, resource-based conflict and elections-related insecurity.
A total of 77,586 severely malnourished children (98% of annual target) and 145,565 moderately malnourished children (75% of annual target) were admitted for treatment in 2017 (Recovery rate for SAM: 78.6% and MAM: 82%). This is a 35% increase in SAM admissions compared to 2016.
A total of 721,560 children under five ((93% of annual target) accessed an integrated package of health interventions and a total of 160,859 children under five were vaccinated against measles in 2017.
Cholera outbreak was controlled in 18 out of 22 affected counties.
A total of 649,044 drought-affected women, girls, boys and men (99% of annual target) in nine counties gained permanent access to safe water in 2017 through the rehabilitation of water points with UNICEF support.
A total of 198,404 (41% female) children and adolescents, including refugee children, benefitted from Education in Emergencies (EiE) interventions in 2017.
A total of 22,146 children (75% of annual target) benefitted from protection services and a total of 225,087 adolescents accessed HIV services in 2017.
UNICEF Kenya Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) 2017 was revised in March and September to enhance resource mobilization for drought response, with 65% funding against the HAC received by end 2017.
People are food insecure
(2017 Long Rains Assessment, August 2017)
People are in urgent need of safe drinking water (Ministry of Water and Irrigation, June 2017)
Children are food insecure
(2017 Long Rains Assessment, June 2017)
Children under 5 in need of SAM treatment (Nutrition SMART Surveys, July 2017, total caseload)
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
The food-insecure population in Kenya rose from 1.3 million in August 2016 to 2.7 million in February 2017, and to 3.4 million by July 2017 due to a severe drought affecting the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) counties. Consequently, a nutrition crisis was experienced through the year across the arid and semi-arid counties of Kenya1. This severity of the crisis was confirmed through nutrition surveys conducted in February and July, which showed that 482,882 children required treatment for acute malnutrition (104,614 of whom were suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition). Additionally, five counties reported Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate in excess of 20 percent (Marsabit, North Horr, Laisamis sub-counties) with Turkana and Mandera counties reporting GAM rates over 30 percent which is comparable to the severe Horn of Africa drought in 2011. The proportion of children identified as acutely malnourished ranged between 45% and 3.1% with the highest rates reported from Turkana North and North Horr in Marsabit. Children continued to be more vulnerable to the drought due to negative coping mechanisms by families, with an increase in school dropouts, poor school attendance, neglect and exploitation of children being reported. In February 2017, the President of Kenya declared the drought a national disaster and called for global support.
The drought also contributed to an increase in disease outbreaks, which continued to challenge child survival. The country faced multiple outbreaks, which included cholera, malaria dengue fever and measles. According to Ministry of Health Disease Outbreak situation reports, a total of 4,278 Cholera cases with 79 deaths (case fatality rate of 1.8%) and 1,257 Malaria cases with 25 deaths were reported in 2017. A total of 22 out of 47 counties were affected by Cholera in 2017, however, by the end of the year, only four (Garissa, Kirinyaga, Mombasa and Tharaka Nithi) counties had active outbreaks. Significantly, Nairobi County that had reported the highest number of cases had controlled the outbreak. A total of 1,537 cases of dengue fever with one death were reported in two counties (Mombasa and Wajir) and a total of 528 suspected cases of measles (out of which 22 were confirmed) were reported, with one reported death of a child under one year. In 2017, Kenya was also on alert for Marburg and Plague outbreaks due to outbreaks in neighboring countries.
The humanitarian situation was further aggravated by a four-month long doctors strike and a five- month long nurses strike in mid-2017, with approximately over 50% of the health facilities in ASAL Counties non-operational which compromised the Government’s response capacity and heavily impacted the service delivery for health and nutrition, resulting in a significant drop in achievements gained in child and maternal health indicators such as immunization coverage, skilled deliveries and admissions of acutely malnourished children, which dropped by 40-60%. Health visits per month reduced to an average of 4.2 million (32% decline) visits per month, down from 6.8 million visits per month prior to the doctors’ strike. The visits further reduced to an average of 3.2 million (48.4% decline) visits per month following the nurses’ strike. The prolonged election period slowed down economic and government activity, also contributing to delay in the delivery of basic social services. Localized flash floods and inter communal conflicts resulted in some displacement and damage to infrastructure, further disrupting service delivery.
According to UNHCR data, Kenya hosted an estimated 488,415 refugees in 20172, primarily from Somalia and South Sudan, 57 per cent of whom are children under 18. A total of 18,385 South Sudanese refugee arrived in Kenya in 2017, which includes 575 (257girls and 318boys) Unaccompanied Minors and 3,170 (1,114 girls and 2,056 boys) separated children. Inadequate sanitation and solid waste management in the camps continues to expose the refugee populations to the risk of disease outbreaks, with Cholera outbreak reported in both camps. The Influx of new refugees to Kakuma refugee camp, exposed children to crowded and congested class rooms (Pupil: Teacher Ratio-1:120), inadequate/untrained teachers and limited teaching learning materials, which compromised the quality of the education provided. About 34,055 refugees from Dadaab Refugee Camps were voluntarily repatriated to Somalia in 2017. Besides the non-registration of new arrivals in Dadaab that has exposed undocumented children to protection risks such as lack of access to basic services within the camp, FGM, child marriage, Children associated with armed forces and armed groups, increased number of returnees, teenage pregnancies and the suspension of mobile courts continue to pose protection concerns for children. Measles outbreak was also reported in Dadaab due to influx of children from Somalia who have not had access to vaccination against preventable childhood illnesses.