|© UNICEF video|
|The nomadic Turkana tribes of northeastern Kenya have been especially vulnerable to the severe year-long drought afflicting the region.|
By Sabine Dolan
NEW YORK, USA, 21 March 2006 – The nomadic Turkana tribes of northeastern Kenya have been especially vulnerable to the severe year-long drought afflicting the Horn of Africa.
Like most pastoral and farming communities in the region, the tribes’ livelihood depends on their herds, which have been dying off because of the drought. Recent rains have not reached some of the most badly hit communities.
Across Central and East Africa, hundreds of people and tens of thousands of livestock have died from hunger and thirst. Drought has become a chronic emergency in this arid region of Africa. Nearly 3.5 million people, including at least half a million school children, are in need of emergency assistance.
Critical malnutrition rates
Against this backdrop, hospitals in Turkana are struggling to provide treatment to the huge number of undernourished children who stream through their doors every day. Routine immunization rates in many areas are alarmingly low, and the combination of malnutrition and measles poses a major threat.
|© UNICEF video|
|Hospitals in Turkana have witnessed an alarming rise in the number of children they treat. A UNICEF survey indicates that acute malnutrition rates are dangerously high in all parts of Turkana.|
In fact, malnutrition and disease have increased markedly among those who are most at risk – especially pregnant and lactating mothers and young children.
A UNICEF survey indicates that acute malnutrition rates are dangerously elevated in all parts of Turkana. “The level of malnourished children in this district is quite high,” says UNICEF nutritionist Emily Teshome. “We have a global acute malnourished rate of 20 per cent. What that really means is that it is above the World Health Organization critical point, which is 15 percent."
UNICEF has been coordinating emergency actions, working with the Ministries of Health, Water and Education, and concentrating efforts on three fronts:
In April, the United Nations will launch a regional appeal for the Horn of Africa to sustain its ongoing emergency programmes and protect the lives of children at this time of increased vulnerability.
21 March 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Sabine Dolan reports on the severe drought in Kenya and its impact on nomadic Turkana communities.
More on the drought in the Horn of Africa