WFP seeks US 12 Million to fly emergency aid to 1.1 Million flood victims in Somalia and Kenya

from World Food Programme
Published on 27 Jan 1998
NAIROBI : The World Food Programme warned today that unless donors provide new funding it will be forced to halt emergency airlifts and airdrops of food and other vital supplies to 1.1 million people cut off by floodwaters in remote areas of Kenya and Somalia.

Estimating that it will cost US$12 million to deliver by air an additional 16,000 metric tons of assistance between now and the end of March, WFP called on donors to make pledges immediately to avert the suspension of the air operations at the end of January. This is in addition to funds for food aid.

WFP praised donors for their quick response to earlier appeals. Assistance has come from the European Community Humanitarian Office, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Switzerland, Australia and the Netherlands.

But it said additional donations are urgently needed to prolong the emergency operation because the unusually heavy rains continued until mid January in Kenya and much of Somalia. A growing number of flood victims will need emergency assistance at least until the end of March.

The deluge, which began in mid-October, is widely blamed on the El Niño effect.

WFP initially asked donors to support an operation lasting only two months because it had been expected that the rain would taper off in mid-December and that conditions would return to normal by early February. Instead, the rains continued for another month.

Beyond the funding for air transport, WFP estimates the flood victims in Somalia will need 15,790 tons more food aid during the 1998 calendar year. An assessment of Kenya's food needs is under way, and early indications are that more than 500,000 people have now been affected following intensified rains in January.

WFP has already spent most of the $US5.8 million given by the international donor community to provide logistical support for the massive aid operation involving UN agencies, government ministries and non-governmental organizations.

With roads and most airstrips under water, WFP chartered nine aircraft, two helicopters and a fleet of 18 boats to locate flood victims and has so far delivered 4,500 tons of food, medicines, shelter and other supplies to flood victims. The airlifts and airdrops began in mid November in Somalia and early December in Kenya.

Hardest hit are Somalia's Middle and Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, Gedo, Bay and Bakool districts where flooding has severely affected 657,000 people.

The floods killed 1,980 people and 33,500 head of livestock and destroyed 31,000 tons of food stocks and crops planted on 60,000 hectares of farmland. Somalia's harvest at the end of January is expected to be 35,000 tons below the initial estimate of 95,000 tons.

In Kenya, food is most urgently needed by 390,700 people in Tana River, Garissa, Mandera, Isiolo, Wajir and Marsabit districts. Stranded communities will be unreachable by road until the end of March at the earliest, and in the case of centres like Wajir, even longer.

WFP is also airlifting 500 tons of food a week from Nairobi to Garissa for 125,000 refugees in the Dadaab camps. The refugees are totally dependent on the airlift because the main road is still impassable.

For further information, please contact:
Trevor Rowe
Spokesman, WFP/Rome
Tel. +39-6 6513-2602

Christiane Berthiaume
Information Officer, WFP/Geneva
Tel. +41-22 979-9564

Brenda Barton
Information Officer, WFP Nairobi
Tel. +254-2 622-594