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Map of Kenya
UNICEF photo: a mother and her child look at camera © UNICEF Kenya/2017/Oloo A mother and child at Badanrero Dispensary in Northern Kenya. Screening for malnutrition due to drought is carried out at the dispensary with severe cases being treated with Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods in addition to other nutrition interventions.


In 2017, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children under 5 with SAM admitted into the integrated management of acute malnutrition (IMAM) programme


children under 5 accessing an integrated package of health interventions, including for the management of diarrhoeal diseases


people affected by crises are reached with safe water interventions including with hygiene education

2017 Requirements: US$41,000,000

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Total people in need: 4,000,0001
Total children (<18) in need: 1,720,000

Total people to be reached in 2017: 1,000,0002
Total children to be reached in 2017: 780,0003

The food security and nutrition situation in Kenya has deteriorated significantly since the end of 2016, with the President of Kenya declaring a national disaster on 10 February 20174 due to the ongoing severe drought situation which is affecting 23 Arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) counties and other areas of the country. An estimated 4 million people are expected to be food insecure by April 2017,5 a 54 per cent increase from 2.6 million in February.6 There has also been a significant increase in the severe acute malnutrition (SAM) caseload, with 109,464 children under-five in need of treatment, up from 75,300 in August 2016.7 People are also facing an acute lack of water,8 with about 20 per cent of strategic water sources non-functioning, while the cost of water has increased up to tenfold. Daily per capita water consumption has decreased to 5 to 10 litres from an average of 15 to 20 litres, increasing tensions among communities. Ongoing cholera, measles and Kala-azar9 outbreaks are at risk of increasing. Due lack of food and water in schools, nearly 175,000 children in 10 counties are not attending classes.10 An increase in the number of street children is also being reported.11 With elections scheduled for August, electoral violence could compound the situation. Drought-related refugee influxes from neighboring countries into Kakuma and Dadaab camps are also expected to increase.

Humanitarian strategy

2017 revised programme targets [12]


  • 83,848 children under 5 with SAM admitted into the integrated management of acute malnutrition (IMAM) programme
  • 171,917 children under 5 with MAM admitted into the IMAM programme


  • 780,000 children under 5 accessing an integrated package of health interventions, including for the management of diarrhoeal diseases
  • 46,013 children under five vaccinated against measles


  • 400,000 people gain permanent access to 7.5-15 litres per person per day of safe water
  • 520,000 people reached with critical WASH-related information to prevent child illness, especially diarrhoea
  • 110,000 children access safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in their learning environment

Child protection

  • 30,000 most vulnerable children are provided with access to protection services


  • 322,000 children aged 3 to 18 years affected by crises accessing formal and non-formal education opportunities


  • 90,000 adolescents have access to HIV, sexual and reproductive health and lifeskills education and services

Social protection

  • 70,000 vulnerable households in six ASAL counties receive top-up cash transfers to help meet basic needs13

UNICEF has revised its humanitarian strategy for 2017, to focus primarily on scaling up interventions for existing populations and expanding to new areas to respond to the severe drought situation. The response will focus on strengthening sector coordination, situation monitoring, advocacy, and delivery of life-saving assistance in support of government-led efforts through different partnerships with government counterparts and NGOs. UNICEF has developed an integrated, multi-sectorial Drought Response Plan to respond to the life-saving and protective needs of more than 780,000 children through mass screening and treatment for malnutrition; access to safe water through repair of strategic water points (more than doubling the initial target); strengthening disease prevention and response, focusing on cholera; supporting children to enrol and remain in school; and providing child protection and humanitarian cash transfer assistance services to improve food security for vulnerable households. UNICEF’s nutrition response continues to integrate humanitarian and development interventions through multi-sector convergence and programming for resilience. UNICEF is investing significantly in preparedness including with support to the national and county level contingency planning processes and stocking that are ongoing in potential electoral violence hotspots and displacements areas. Response to the refugee influx from South Sudan to Kakuma camp and Kalobeyei settlement continues, including nutrition, child protection and education services, as well as profiling of protection concerns for children affected by the voluntary repatriation of refugees due to the potential closure of Dadaab camp.

UNICEF results to date

In the first two months of 2017, UNICEF has funds available in the amount of US$7.2 million against its US$23 million original appeal (31 per cent funded).14 With available funding, supplies of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) have been dispatched in the ASAL counties, which will support the treatment of over 13,600 children with SAM in the first quarter. Due to increased mass screening and community outreach activities, admissions for SAM treatment increased from over 2,300 in December 2016 to more than 4,000 in January 2017, and admissions of children with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) also increased from over 5,000 to nearly 8,000. Adequate medical supplies have been distributed to health facilities to provide essential medical services for 450,000 people, through which 90,000 people have already accessed preventative and curative life-saving interventions for cholera and measles. More than 28,700 people in Turkana and Kitui counties are benefitting from the rehabilitation of 20 water points with UNICEF support, including nearly 2,200 school children (50 per cent girls) as well as patients and staff in two health facilities in Turkana. In addition, 31,900 people in Wajir county and almost 1,900 people in Mlanjo and Vango villages in Tana River county are benefitting from emergency WASH supplies, improving the safety and storage of drinking water and hygiene for children and their families.


Funding requirements

UNICEF has revised its Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) requirements for Kenya from US$23 million to US$41 million to meet the increased humanitarian needs of children in the country due to the rapidly deteriorating drought situation as well as to cover refugee response needs and the significant investments being made in preparedness. Funding requirements include US$23.3 million for drought response (in line with the interagency 2017 Kenya Flash Appeal), US$7.3 million for the refugee response and US$10.4 million for preparedness which takes into consideration the potential for pre/post-election violence and subsequent displacement as well as resource based conflict, disease outbreaks and flashfloods. Without additional funding, UNICEF will be unable to support the national response to the drought emergency, and mitigate the risk of a worsening situation for children. With increasing vulnerability due to deterioration of the nutrition status and limited access to water, the number of children and women requiring nutrition, health, WASH and a social protection response will increase. Emergency education supplies are also needed to uphold children’s rights to education and protection, with schools serving as critical entry points for life-saving interventions.

1 Government projected number of people in need of food assistance due to the drought. The Government estimates that 4 million people will be in need of assistance by July 2017, if the long rains fail.
2 The total number of people to be reached by UNICEF in 2017, includes 780,000 children befitting from integrated health package and 220,000 adults (male and female) benefiting from WASH services.
3 The total number of children to be reached by UNICEF in 2017, includes 780,000 children befitting from integrated health package (which are the same children befitting from UNICEF’s other interventions (e.g, education, nutrition, child protection services).
4 Government declares drought a national disaster
5 Kenya Flash Appeal 2017. The appeal was launched on 16 March 2017, amounting to US$165.71 million to reach 2.6 million people with life-saving assistance and protection over the next 10 months.
6 National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) 2016 Short Rains Assessment published in February 2017, concluded that 2.6 million people are in need of food assistance.
7 In 2017, an estimated 330,333 children under 5 will require MAM treatment and 109,464 children under 5 will require SAM treatment, of which both the Nutrition Sector and UNICEF are targeting 171,917 children with MAM and 83,848 children with SAM (50% and 75% of the MAM and SAM caseload respectively in both ASAL and urban informal settlements are targeted; and 90% of both SAM and MAM of the refugee caseload is targeted). UNICEF’s SAM target is covered under the humanitarian programme (there are not multiple development and humanitarian targets for SAM).
8 Ministry of Water and Irrigation estimates that 2.6 million are in acute need of water across 23 ASAL counties of Kenya.
9 Visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala-azar, is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, substantial weight loss, swelling of the spleen and liver, and anaemia (which may be serious). If the disease is not treated, the fatality rate in developing countries can be as high as 100% within 2 year.
10 Kenya Flash Appeal 2017.
11 Ibid.
12 UNICEF HAC targets currently do not include other risks such as pre/post-election violence and subsequent displacement and resource based conflict, disease outbreaks, and flashfloods. The number of people potentially affected will be determined by assessments conducted at a later date, at which point another HAC revision may be required. The same populations affected by the ongoing severe drought will most likely be affected by the other risks mentioned above.
13 This includes over 150,000 children in six ASAL counties.
14 Available funds include funding received against the original appeal of US$23 million and approximately US$5.7 million carried forward from the previous year, of which US$2.8 million is for the refugee response.