The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs (OCHA) on Friday launched humanitarian flash appeal for the Kenya drought response as no fewer than 2.5 million people experience food insecurity in the country.
The Kenya Drought Flash Appeal calls for nearly 139.5 million dollars to deliver relief to 1.3 million people whose lives have been hardest hit by the crisis.
An estimated 28.5 million dollars has already been received from donors, including five million dollars from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund.
The appeal brings together 45 humanitarian partners, including UN agencies, international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), national NGOs and the Kenya Red Cross Society.
The appeal is to complement the government’s response to the drought crisis in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) region.
OCHA said immediate action was needed to respond to the severe drought that was ravaging communities in Kenya’s dry regions – categorised as ASAL.
“Two and half million people are already experiencing deep food insecurity after two back-to-back rainy seasons failed.
“By November, it will have nearly tripled since the same time last year,’’ the UN agency OCHA warned.
“People in the ASAL region are facing a dire situation,” said Stephen Jackson, UN Resident Coordinator for Kenya, as he launched the appeal.
Speaking from Nairobi, Mr Jackson said people in Wajir, Northern Kenya, had not seen rain for over a year. Acute malnutrition rates are rising rapidly, posing an imminent risk to children and pregnant and lactating women.
Jackson pointed out that Kenya’s Government had already been responding to the crisis. Ksh 1.7 billion (around 17 million dollars) in public funds has already been allocated and Kenya has announced a further Ksh two billion (20 million dollars).
Since January the UN and international partners have already been reaching almost half a million people to protect their lives and their livelihoods, he said, “But it is not enough”.
Kenya urgently needs approximately 60 million dollars for food and job security, 40 million dollars for nutrition, 20 million dollars for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
The country also needs some 10 million dollars for health investments, and seven million dollars for education and other related sectors, the UN Resident Coordinator for Kenya said.
“We aim to deliver a full package of support in counties that will face the deepest and most severe needs in the months to come”.
Welcoming how the UN system in Kenya had already come together to “respond as one”, Jackson insisted on the urgency of the situation: “The time to act is now”. International support will save lives and livelihoods, he said.
The “severe impact of the global climate emergency is being felt across the Horn of Africa” he noted.
Referring to the recent Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change report he pointed out that “once sporadic droughts in Africa are becoming much more frequent, more severe and more long-lasting”.
Neither Kenya nor the African continent were major culprits in creating the climate emergency, he said, yet they are amongst those most heavily impacted by it.