Despite recent rains, UN still faces shortfall in feeding drought-stricken Kenyans

27 September 2006

Although rains have reduced the number of drought-stricken Kenyans in need of food aid from 3.5 million to nearly 3 million, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it still needs $44 million to continue its operations there for the next six months and is concerned that donor contributions have slowed considerably.

Although rains have reduced the number of drought-stricken Kenyans in need of food aid from 3.5 million to nearly 3 million, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it still needs $44 million to continue its operations there for the next six months and is concerned that donor contributions have slowed considerably.

“The numbers in need have gone down but that is no consolation or help to those who remain victims of the drought,” WFP Emergency Coordinator in Kenya Denise Brown said. “In particular, WFP now has a big problem with a shortage of cereals, which make up most of the food ration. We will completely run out of cereals from October and through November.”

WFP has so far received $155 million or 69 per cent of the $225 million needed for its Emergency Operation from March this year until March 2007. At the height of the drought this year, 3.5 million people received food aid each month.

The Agency is $44 million short of the funds it needs to feed 2.4 million people with general food distributions from September to March 2007, as well as feed 550,000 school children in drought-stricken areas.

The greatest needs are in nine pastoralist districts, where the number of people receiving general food distributions will be cut from September from 1.3 million to 1.2 million. In marginal agricultural districts, the number of beneficiaries is reduced from 1.4 million to 1 million. In coastal districts, the numbers receiving food rations were reduced by 55 per cent.

An assessment report by the Government, WFP, other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations noted that 84 per cent of Kenya’s land area is arid or semi-arid and chronic poverty is high. It found that the latest rains varied from fair to good in the northeast, coast and parts of the south to 50-75 per cent below normal in north western and northern parts of Kenya and stressed that drought will inevitably return.

A commitment to developing the arid areas is a humanitarian obligation and economic imperative and long-term development is needed both to alleviate poverty and mitigate the damage done by drought, the report added.

 

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