Severe drought in Kenya is resulting in rapidly increasing levels of food insecurity and acute malnutrition. The Government of Kenya declared the drought a national disaster on 10 February 2017 and requested the international community to support and supplement national response measures.
Nutrition status among the most vulnerable population groups (children 6-59 months, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers) in drought-affected areas has already deteriorated sharply. Two sub-counties (Turkana North, and North Horr (Marsabit)) and Mandera County, have Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence above 30 percent, double the threshold that WHO considers to be an emergency. A further five sub-counties (Turkana Central, East and South, Laisamis (Marsabit) and East Pokot (Baringo)) and Isiolo County have GAM prevalence between 15 and 29 percent.
The current drought has pushed the number of children aged 6-59 months and suffering from acute malnutrition to almost 344,000, in 23 drought-affected counties. Of these, approximately 75,000 are severely malnourished and 269,000 are moderately malnourished.
The GoK, UNICEF and WFP will support the treatment of approximately 134,000 moderately malnourished children (targeting to reach 50 percent of the affected children) and 37,000 malnourished pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in the 23 drought-affected counties between March and October.
Out of the US$12.8 required for this, the Government has allocated US$7.4 million, resulting in a shortfall of $5.4 million.
The Ministry of Health has requested WFP to bridge this funding gap. Failure to ensure continuity of treatment of moderate acute malnutrition in health facilities will lead to increased risk of morbidity and mortality, and also cause an increase in the cases of severe acute malnutrition.
Malnutrition is well above the critical/Emergency thresholds and a Blanket Supplementary Feeding Programme is required. WFP will implement BSFP in counties with critical or very critical GAM levels (>20%) to prevent a further deterioration in nutrition status among the most vulnerable groups. These counties include Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera,
Isiolo and Baringo (East Pokot).
To achieve this, WFP urgently requires US$30.4 million to enrol 450,000 children aged 6-59 months and 100,000 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers into the BSFP for a period of six months (May to October).
Overall, WFP requires US$35.8 million to effectively respond to acute malnutrition in the arid and semi-arid counties for the next eight months.