United Nations appealing for billions to help starving Kenyans

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The United Nations and humanitarian partners are now appealing for USD166 million to address the ongoing drought that has threatened lives of thousands of Kenyans especially in the northern part of the country.

The United Nations says the aid will be directed to addressing the devastating consequences of drought on pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in northern Kenya.

The drought has been as a result of unreliable rains over the last three years.

“The unreliable rain is causing thirst and hunger, decimating livestock, destroying livelihoods, spreading disease, and causing large movements of people. Half of Kenya’s 47 counties are affected by what the Government has declared a national drought disaster,” said the U.N. in a statement. 

The U.N. notes that below average rainfall in 2016 has caused severe dryness in the country’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) counties, doubling the number of severely food insecure Kenyans to 2.6 million in less than a year.

A similar number lack access to safe drinking water with more than 357,000 children, pregnant women and new mothers are acutely malnourished. 

“Six Kenyan sub-counties have reported Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates above the 15 per cent global emergency threshold. More alarmingly, GAM rates in Turkana North, Marsabit and Mandera have exceeded 30 per cent – more than double the emergency threshold. Conditions are likely to deteriorate if the next rain season fails, as is currently predicted,” says the United Nations. 

The appeal by the U.N. complements the government’s ongoing nine-month response plan which currently faces a funding gap of USD108 million.

The government has allocated USD100 million against the overall estimated requirement of USD208 million. 

“A variety of national and internationally-supported cash and food assistance programmes are providing a much-needed safety net to vulnerable families, but the growing needs are overwhelming the capacity to respond.” 

“The United Nations commends the Government of Kenya’s leadership in tackling the devastating effects of drought on some of the country’s most vulnerable communities. Today we appeal for USD166 million, to support those efforts through the United Nations and other partners. With these funds, humanitarian actors will provide life-saving food, health, water and sanitation services to 2.6 million vulnerable Kenyans over the next ten months,” said Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya. 

“It is not inevitable that drought should lead to food insecurity, malnutrition, disease and displacement. We know how to tackle both the causes and the consequences through early warning systems, immediate resource mobilisation, long-term resilience programming, and coordinated action across all sectors. We must act together now to avert further suffering,” said Joseph Kinyua, Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service, Office of the President of Kenya.

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