The organizations – Save the Children, Action Against Hunger, World Vision, Concern Worldwide and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said there are currently 420,000 children under the age of five who are facing acute malnutrition. “Out of this figure nearly 73,000 children are severely malnourished and at risk of dying from drought-related hunger unless urgent aid is made immediately available,” the organizations said during the launch of joint nutrition assessments in Nairobi. The assessment conducted by the County Departments of Health, UNICEF, and nine aid organizations, indicates that in the Northern County of Turkana, severe acute malnutrition rates are nearly four fold in just one year, from 2.3 to 8.3 percent. The assessments also reveals alarming high severe acute malnutrition rates in East Pokot (5.8 percent), Mandera (5.2 percent), Samburu (3.8 percent), and West Pokot (3.2 percent). The study also indicated that nearly 40,000 pregnant and nursing women across Kenya are malnourished, a 20 percent increase from last year, leaving their and their children’s lives hanging in the balance.
Save the Children Country Director Francis Woods told a media briefing in Nairobi that the ongoing drought caused by failing raining seasons for the past two years has left thousands of children and families in a life threatening situation. Woods noted that Kenya doesn’t need to lose lives to preventable causes. “We therefore appeal to the international community to scale up comprehensive response to the crisis,” he added. In January, humanitarian organizations appealed for 166 million U.S. dollars for food aid in Kenya but only raised 30 percent of the amount. Action Against Hunger Kenya Country Director Patrick Mweki said that in order to alleviate the suffering the government needs to improve the social safety net for the poorest households. “The current drought has exacerbated the situation and so the current hunger safety net program cash transfer amounts are not sufficient to cushion households and enable them to purchase nutritious foods,” Mweki said.