Kenya + 2 more

UNICEF Kenya Humanitarian Situation Report, 20 February 2017

Situation Report
Originally published



  • About 2.7 million people in Kenya are now in need of relief assistance, up from 1.3 million in August 20161 . The President of Kenya declared a national disaster on 10 February 2017 and has called for international support.

  • The results of SMART surveys conducted in January and February 2017 to monitor the emergency nutrition situation show very high levels of global acute malnutrition (GAM) (above 30 per cent) in three northern counties (Turkana North, North Hor of Marsabit, and Mandera)

  • As a result of the drought, a total of 174,000 children are not attending school in the affected counties, and 1,274 schools and Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centers have no access to water, affecting 246,000 children. An increase in the number of children living in the streets in Arid and Semi-Arid Counties has been observed.

  • UNICEF Kenya is revising its Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal funding requirements to reflect the new needs for the drought response.


2.7 million People are food insecure (Long Rains Assessment, January 2017)

2.6 million People are in need of WASH assistance (Ministry of Water and Irrigation, February 2017)

1.1 million Children are food insecure (Long (Rains Assessment, January 2017)

109,464 Children under 5 in need of SAM treatment

174,000 Children in pre-primary and primary school are not attending school due to the drought

UNICEF HAC Appeal 2017

US$ 23,019,000

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

  • Below average performance of the 2016 short and long rains has led to a severe drought in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) of Kenya. As a consequence the food insecure population in Kenya has more than doubled over a sixmonth period, and it is estimated that 2.7 million people in Kenya are now in need of relief assistance, up from 1.3 million in August 20161 . This includes 300,000 people in non-Arid and Semi-Arid (non-ASAL) counties affected by crop failures and decline of yields. Most of those affected are children under-5 years, mothers, the elderly and the sick. The worst-affected counties are Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir and Baringo. Several county assemblies have voted re-alignment of development budget to drought emergency response. The government of Kenya has signed a cabinet memo in November 2016 to allocate Ksh 210 million for the drought response, but these funds have still to be put to full use. On 10 February 2017, the President of Kenya has declared the ongoing drought a national disaster and has appealed for international support.

  • According to the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) for Acute Malnutrition conducted in February 2017, Turkana North, North Horr in Marsabit and Mandera counties reported a Very Critical Nutrition situation (phase 5; Global Acute Malnutrition ≥30 per cent). A Critical Nutrition Situation (Phase 4; Global Acute Malnutrition 15.0 - 29.9 per cent) was reported in East Pokot in Baringo County, Isiolo and Turkana South, West and Central. Tana River county reported a Serious Nutrition Situation (Global Acute Malnutrition 10.0 -14.9 per cent) while Tharaka Nithi was in Phase 2 (alert Global Acute Malnutrition ≥ 5 to 9.9 per cent). Finally Kitui and Kilifi were in Phase 1 (acceptable Global Acute Malnutrition <5 per cent). Compared with August 2016, improvement in the nutrition situation was noted in Turkana South while deterioration was noted in Turkana North, Isiolo Mandera and Marsabit Counties. The nutrition situation is expected to deteriorate across all ASAL counties in the coming months if the dry spell persists.

  • Due to the drought, access to water and sanitation continues to deteriorate in affected areas and approximately 2.6 million people are in need of water. Approximately 35 per cent of rural water points were non-functional even before the drought; now it is estimated that an additional 20 per cent of water points have broken down or dried up in some areas. The cost of water has risen up to ten-fold in some counties as water points are breaking down due to extra demands or lack of water. Distance to viable water sources increased up to 10-15km. Per capita water consumption dropped to 5-10 litres per person per day, significantly below the minimum standard of at least 15 litres per person per day. Out of the six most drought affected counties with a total of 436 health facilities, over 170 (39 per cent) facilities require water trucking.

  • The drought is also likely to negatively impact health systems, with consequent deterioration in quality and access to life-saving interventions. Counties continue to record thousands of diarrheal cases associated with lack of clean water and poor hygiene, especially among children. This is exacerbated by a large number of health facilities without access to clean running water and dependence on water trucking. Excessive drought related movement of pastoralist populations is also likely to reduce vaccination coverage of children and access to essential health services, including maternal and new-born care. Furthermore, health services continue to be negatively impacted by the health workers strike, with the doctor’s strike entering its third month. This has, and is likely to continue, reduce the availability and quality of health provision, leading to unnecessary increases in preventable deaths.

  • The drought is affecting Kenya at a moment when the cholera epidemic is still active. Since December 2014, 30 out of 47 counties have been affected by Cholera, of which Tana River is the only county that continues to report cases. Total cases reported from 10 October 2016 are 215 (164 cases in 2016 and 51 cases in 2017) with 5 deaths (Case Fatality Rate of 2.3%). Risk factors such as low latrine coverage, deep rooted social practices, poverty and high illiteracy are still prevalent in the county, and therefore, the outbreak is expected to escalate due to the ongoing drought. Increased surveillance, health promotion activities and health education about Cholera are re-activated in Dadaab refugee camps due to the Cholera outbreak in Somalia.

  • Ministry of Health surveillance reports of 15 and 22 January show more counties reporting suspected measles outbreaks, with 36 cases reported in the week ending 15 January 2017. Since the last measles rubella campaign was completed nearly one year ago and routine vaccination rates in drought affected areas are low, these cases are expected to rise, as more unvaccinated newborns enter the population.

  • Data collected by UNICEF in January 2017 from 10 affected counties indicates that over 174,000 children (14.2 per cent of school aged population) are not attending ECD and primary schools due to drought impact, mainly lack of food and water. Four schools have closed as a direct result of drought in two counties and 1,274 schools have no access to water in the same 10 counties, affecting 246,000 children. Schools in both Dadaab and host communities are currently experiencing lack of water and food, creating an alarming situation which may undermine the efforts to increase enrolment in most of schools. More than 50 per cent of refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab are under 18 years, many of whom have experienced violent conflict and displacement, and 48 per cent of whom are out of school.

  • Results from the national primary examinations in both Kakuma and Dadaab continue to improve, with 90 per cent and 67 per cent pass rates, respectively in 2016. However, due to lack of learning facilities, only 13 per cent of the learners may be enrolled in secondary school. In addition, only 25 per cent of secondary school students are girls.

  • Increases in numbers of children on the streets in urban centers as well as cases of child abuse have been reported. In Lodwar town, approximately 500 children (a third of them girls) are on the streets at night due to effects of drought (compared to about 60 in March 2016).

  • As of 31 January 2017, Kenya hosts 496,420 refugees (159,053 in Kakuma, 270,100 in Dadaab, and 67,267 in Nairobi). Refugee influx from South Sudan into Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei continues, with 1,557 new arrivals in 2017, of which 107 are unaccompanied minors (61 boys and 46 girls) and 547 are separated children (362 boys and 185 girls). Due to the worsening drought situation in South Sudan and Somalia, there is the likelihood of increased arrivals of drought-displaced persons in both Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee camps, with an increased number of children suffering from malnutrition.

  • The High Court of Kenya has ruled against the Government decision to close the Dadaab Refugee Camps, and has ordered the re-instatement of the Department of Refugee Affairs. Further direction on the way forward is awaited from the Government. In this regard, the planned closure by 31 May 2017 still stands.