The United Nations (UN) has launched a funding appeal to tame the ravaging effects of drought in Kenya, a month after President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the situation a national disaster.
The $166 million (Sh17.1 billion) request formally known as “flash funding appeal” seeks to raise the money in the next three months to buttress the government’s efforts to save an estimated 3 million people from starvation.
On Thursday, UN Kenya Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee said the appeal targets both private bodies and international donors to help stop another round of possible famine in the country.
“What we are doing is to make sure that no Kenyan dies because of lack of food or scarcity of water. That is our first action, which is to save lives,” Mr Chatterjee told journalists in Nairobi.
“Our second action is to go into a quick recovery mode. But our third and most important action is, over the next few years, look at Kenya as not only drought-resilient but as a bread basket for the rest of eastern and southern Africa,” he added.
The appeal, which comes weeks after the UN launched a different regional $1.4 billion funding request to deal with drought in the horn of Africa, is targeting Kenya’s key donors such as the European Union, United Kingdom, the US and others.
The money will go to buy food, bring water to communities, send cash stipends to some and help launch what officials said long-term projects against hunger.
Government officials led by Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua, UK Department for International Development (DFID) Country Director Pete Vowles, US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe and other officials met in Nairobi where they launched the fund-raising appeal.
Kenya’s situation, as opposed to South Sudan’s for example, has not reached famine level according to UN standards which assesses hunger situation by determining number of people who have starved to death or malnourished.
But 23 of the 47 counties in Kenya are affected with about 340,000 people in 13 of the counties in arid areas considered vulnerable.
These 13 counties, in total, are home to an estimated 2.7 million who must now be put on a relief programme, same as another 300,000 in counties that often have relatively fair climate but which have had little rain in the past year.
On Thursday, Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe said there is no person “who has died directly” from hunger, but did admit that a number of livestock, the main source of livelihood for these communities, have either died or lost market value
“This drought is going to be one of the most painful, remember it is one of the worst that has faced this country,” he said.
“The impacts are quite severe (sic) on the livestock. This drought situation on livestock has caused death, loss of body condition and therefore value and almost a total collapse of the meat production,” he said.
The government requires an additional Sh11.4 billion to address food shortage and the attendant rise of malnutrition in the country.
In Kenya, UNICEF says that 337, 292 children under five years require treatment for moderate acute malnutrition while another 75, 300 are severely malnourished.
The additional financial requirement means that the government has revised its estimates for the relief programme which the Ministry of Planning and Devolution had earlier said should go on to August, costing an additional Sh9 billion from April.
Already, the government says it has spent Sh5.4 billion to address the impact of the drought between November last year and January this year.
Between February and April, the Ministry said it would require Sh11.6 billion and another Sh7.1 billion to extend the relief efforts to August.
But it has only allocated Sh7.3 billion for the remaining phases, meaning it may need the assistance from donors of another Sh11.4 billion.