The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed for $244 million to scale up its operation in Kenya, where high food prices and drought have left 3.5 million people in need of aid.
The Kenyan Government declared a national disaster in January following the failure of rains in some parts of the country. Subsistence farmers in south-eastern and coastal areas were hardest hit and have experienced almost total crop loss.
“Many families are struggling to find food for even one meal a day, and need food assistance in some cases until the next short rains harvest in 2010,” WFP said in a news release.
High food prices have worsened the situation and reduced people’s ability to buy food. Maize prices have soared by up to 130 per cent in some areas since last year. Inflation and high fuel and fertilizer prices stopped farmers producing larger harvests.
The 3.5 million people who will benefit from WFP assistance are concentrated in rural areas. The Government has also identified some 4 million people in urban areas as food insecure, plus 1.9 million affected by HIV/AIDS.
“Kenyans already struggling with drought and high food prices are now being hit by the financial crisis,” said WFP Country Director Burkard Oberle, adding that falling remittances from overseas, in addition to crop failures, meant that hundreds of thousands more people were now struggling to find enough food.
WFP will step us its assistance in a number of ways, including by increasing the numbers of people in Kenya receiving general food distributions from 1.2 million people to 2.5 million through February 2010.
Also, the agency will assist 340,000 people, including children, pregnant and nursing mothers and orphans, for the same period.
In addition, it will provide 655,000 children with a meal at school in an effort to encourage families to keep their children in school rather than sending them out to look for work or food.