NAIROBI, August 03, 2004 – In response to the drought emergency recently declared in Kenya by President Mwai Kibaki, UNICEF is seeking funds to scale up its response in the drought affected areas across the country. The UNICEF crisis appeal is seeking to raise more than 8 million US dollars to support the Government’s efforts to alleviate the consequences of the drought on the most vulnerable groups, children and women.
Kenya is facing a drought emergency as a result of the poor performance of the short rains in 2003 coupled by erratic long rains in 2004. Of the country’s 71 districts, 26 districts with an estimated 2.3 million people are faced with food insecurity. Most of the affected districts are in the arid and semi-arid areas, where a combination of inadequate food, little water and poor health services are rendering more and more children malnourished and susceptible to disease.
As UNICEF gears up its fund-raising efforts, the organization is already using almost one million US dollars of its own funds to urgently procure supplementary food, vaccines and key health supplies, support water tankering, buy critical water supplies and also ensure that the education of young children is not disrupted. Since early 2004, UNICEF has been actively involved in undertaking nutrition surveys, the results of which have prompted interventions in Turkana.
In addition to other efforts by the Government and NGOs, UNICEF is providing supplementary food for some 5,000 young vulnerable children in Turkana. “While we have started, this is not enough. Young children are the worst hit in any emergency and unless we act quickly we will lose some of them. In the worst affected areas, it estimated that there are more than 37,000 children who are malnourished. About 520,000 children needed to be vaccinated against measles and be provided vitamin A.” says Ms Maniza Zaman, UNICEF’s Chief of Nutrition Section.
According to the UNICEF Kenya Country Office Representative, Mr Heimo Laakkonen, UNICEF dispatched emergency health kits to support the health centres and more supplies are expected shortly. “In addition, potable water will be supplied to the communities and basic education materials will be provided to schools to ensure they remain open and serve as a protective environment for children. We estimate that 1.2 million children may be at risk of dropping out of school due to drought stress. At times like this, children often drop out of school because of the water shortages or in order to undertake household chores,” adds Heimo.
At the national level. UNICEF plays a key role in the Kenya Food Security Group and is the main government partner for coordinating the national emergency sector groups in health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation and education.
For more information contact:
Greg Owino, Communication Officer,
UNICEF Kenya Country Office, Tel 622151