Development Partners’ Roundtable Meeting on Drought and Long-term Sustainable Resilience Building in Turkana

18 April 2023
Shaheen in Nakadukui Integrated Outreach site, Turkana County
UNICEF Kenya/2023/DanOloo

Lodwar, 17 April 2023 - Representatives of key donor countries supporting the response to drought and climate crisis in Kenya came together to visit UNICEF and UN-supported interventions in Turkana County today. The purpose of the visit was to review how the support extended by the UN agencies is helping affected children and families.

The delegation included ambassadors and senior representatives from the embassies of Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as the Ministry of East African Community (EAC), Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) and Regional Development, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and the Governors of Baringo, Samburu, Turkana and West Pokot. The roundtable and field visit were organised by Turkana County Government, in partnership with UNICEF Kenya.

Despite recent rains, the situation of children and families in drought-affected areas of Kenya remains critical. By February 2023, 4.4 million people in Kenya had been rendered acutely food insecure due to drought and close to 1 million children (970,214) aged under five required treatment for malnutrition. This represents a notable spike from last year, against 3.5 million people and 884,000 children respectively in July 2022[1].

“Over the last two and a half years, the Government of Kenya has responded to the drought and climate crisis in the ASAL counties, to meet the needs of affected families and children,” said Cabinet Secretary for EAC, ASALs and Regional Development Rebecca Miano, represented at the roundtable by Ms Maria Cherono, Secretary ASALs. “We are grateful for the support we have received from USAID, United Nations, other development partners and private sector. Moving forward, the need for scaling up humanitarian efforts and long-term resilience building is critical for establishing a sustainable future for people living in the ASAL region. This will be best done in collaboration with County Governments.”

The delegates visited three project sites. At Lodwar County Referral Hospital, they saw the treatment of children with malnutrition, including the stabilization centre for severely malnourished children and outpatient services for those in recovery. At Natiir village, they saw a solar-powered water system, providing safe water for Natiir Primary School, a dispensary and the local community. At Nakadukui village, they saw an integrated outreach site where health workers provide nutrition screening of children, medicines, jerry cans, water purification tablets, child protection and other services for people living far from health care facilities.

“Like other counties in the ASAL region, Turkana has been heavily impacted by the drought in recent years. Lack of pasture led to massive death of animals that many people rely on for their livelihoods. This has further pushed families into poverty and malnutrition,” Governor of Turkana County Jeremiah Ekamais Lomorukai Napotikan said. “We are grateful for the support from UNICEF, the United Nations and other donors throughout the drought response phase and particularly with regard to countering challenges related to nutrition, food, water, health and education.”

Following the visit to the project sites, the development partners joined a round table meeting with national Government representatives and the Governors of Turkana, Baringo, Samburu and West Pokot counties. The discussion focused on the ongoing drought response, the impact of the climate crisis on the inhabitants of arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) counties and the need for sustainable solutions that promote the long-term resilience of affected communities.

“Despite recent rains, the ASAL region of Kenya faces significant development challenges that include climate crisis and conflict, and the situation of children in Turkana remains precarious”, UNICEF Representative to Kenya Shaheen Nilofer said. “It will take a year or more for families to recover from the shocks of the livelihoods they have lost and for the nutrition situation of children to stabilize. We are grateful for the life-saving support of our donors, especially USAID and other benefactors who responded to the multiple downsides caused by the drought. A long-term sustainable and inclusive ASAL engagement strategy is necessary for the enhancement of resilience in affected regions if we are to reduce the impact of the climate crisis on the social and economic well-being of people living there.”

The Turkana roundtable meeting will be followed by a similar event in Garissa. The aim of both events is to leverage concerted, multisectoral, collaborative and focused efforts to reverse the disparity and under-development in ASAL regions of Kenya.

Notes for editors:

 

[1] UNICEF Kenya, Humanitarian Situation Report #3, 11 April 2023, https://www.unicef.org/appeals/kenya/situation-reports

 

 

 

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