WFP launches US$32.5 million development programme for Kenya

NAIROBI, 7 April 1999 - The UN World Food Programme today announced it has signed a US$32.5 million Kenya Country Programme agreement with the Government which will provide 85,000 tons of food aid and operational assistance from now until 2003.
The WFP County Programme was designed in collaboration with the Government of Kenya to support its poverty alleviation initiatives in the country. The programme, which is linked to other UN agency projects, includes school feeding, disaster preparedness and community nutrition and care projects.

WFP assessments show that pastoralists and small-scale farmers living in the arid and semi-arid lands remain the most at risk of food shortages.

"The poor cope with food shortages by reducing what the family eats and withdrawing children - especially girls - from school," said Holdbrook Arthur, Regional Manager Horn of Africa and Kenya Country Director.

"It's not uncommon for Kenyan children to have only one meal a day. School meals have proven an extremely effective way of ensuring attendance, and improving academic performance as children learn much better on a full stomach," he said.

Against this backdrop, WFP has extended its school feeding project - started in 1980 - and will provide over the next five years a mid-morning snack of porridge and a hot lunch of maize and beans to an average of 300,000 primary and pre-primary children especially in the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya, and in the Nairobi slum schools. Half of the children are girls.

School feeding is WFP's main development project in Kenya, accounting for more than two-thirds of the US$32.5 million Kenya programme.

Disaster preparedness is another key activity for WFP in Kenya, a country prone to cycles of severe drought. In 1997 and 1998, Kenya was battered by the El Nino rains which destroyed roads, depleted critically-low food supplies and caused commercial food prices to treble. In flood-affected areas, up to 80 per cent of sheep and goats died of disease devastating the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Kenyans.

As part of the Kenya country programme WFP will provide food to the most needy populations at the onset of a disaster, as well as to provide small-scale food-for-work incentives to the community for the preparation of disaster plans. To strengthen disaster preparedness planning, WFP will use its Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) system in collaboration with the Government, donors and NGOs.

"With spiralling levels of poverty and poor infrastructure, Kenyans are becoming more and more vulnerable while their ability to cope with disasters is decreasing," said Arthur. "This project aims to improve food security for families that are most at risk and prepare communities to better able to cope with food shortages should disaster suddenly hit."

Finally, WFP will support community nutrition and care initiatives together with health NGOs to reduce child malnutrition, and to supplement the diets of expectant and nursing mothers. This project is scheduled to start in 2001 through to 2003 and will feed 45,000 people each year.

The World Food Programme is the United Nations' front-line agency in the fight against global hunger. Last year, its relief and development workers fed 75 million people, including most of the world's refugees. Headquartered in Rome, Italy, WFP has food aid operations in 80 countries are around the world.

For further information please contact:

Brenda Barton
Regional Information Office, WFP Nairobi
Tel. +2542 622594

Lindsey Davies
Information Officer, WFP Nairobi
Tel. +2542 622179