WESCOORD Drought Response Strategy July 2011



In Kenya the 2011 Long Rains was characterized by an erratic and below normal performance, particularly in parts of North Eastern and Eastern Provinces where in many districts rainfall was less than 20 per cent of normal. The poor performance of the rains has resulted in the drying up of traditional surface water sources and placed a greater burden on more reliable water supplies such as deep drilled boreholes.

Malnutrition mortality rates in Northern Kenya have exceeded emergency thresholds promoting the Nutrition Sector to seek emergency financial support to scale up interventions. The 2011 Nutrition Surveys indicate a deterioration of health in 11 northern districts where global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates are recorded at 24-37 per cent and severe acute malnutrition rated at 3-9 per cent. It is estimated that 250,000 children are at direct risk of severe malnutrition within the next 6 months. In response to the deteriorating situation, the Nutrition Sector is calling for emergency response which includes blanket supplementary feeding in all districts with GAM rates over 20 per cent; increase access to stabilisation centres treating malnutrition; increase general food distribution (GFD) and ensure that pregnant and lactating mothers and children under five that are receiving supplementary feeding also receive GFD.

In view of the worsening drought situation the WASH Sector is scaling up its response. The object will be to work to provide improved access to safe water & sanitation and strengthening community operation and maintenance capacity in coordination with the Nutrition Sector’s activities and priority areas.

The drought situation generally has led to resources based conflicts in many water scarce districts with conflicts reported from Mandera, Marsabit, Lagadera, Garbatulla, Samburu and Laikipia. Even though most livestock issues are under the docket of the Agriculture and Livestock Sector Working Group (ALWG) WESCOORD can address water for livestock under certain circumstances. It is important to note that the areas most affected by the current drought and, where the strategy will be targeting have pastoralism as the main livelihood; therefore, a holistic approach to water provision which entails incorporation of livestock water needs and the environment/natural resources management is essential.

The Importance of WASH in Relation to Malnutrition

Safe drinking water is of extreme importance in feeding centres to prepare food and to be used with food intake. Safe drinking water, sanitation and good hygiene are also important to reduce or limit the risk of diarrhoea outbreaks.

Diarrheal outbreaks are a contributing factor towards malnutrition and those that suffer from malnutrition are at greater risk of diarrhoea. This creates a vicious cycle between malnutrition and diarrheal infection and is clearly exacerbated in diarrheal episodes as children tend to eat less during episodes and their ability to absorb nutrients is reduced. Each episode contributes to malnutrition, reduced resistance to infections and when prolonged, to impaired growth and development (Ejemot et al., 2008).