More than 2.5 million people in Kenya are being impacted by severe drought conditions, which have gripped much of the country. As families deal with the effects of the drought—food insecurity being a principal one—Red Cross teams are stepping up efforts in the east African nation. American Red Cross has contributed $500,000 to meet the immediate needs of families affected by this emergency.
During the seasonal rains that began in March 2016, heavy flooding of the Tana River washed away crops and delayed seasonal planting. At the same time, pastoral and farming communities in the arid and semi-arid lands of the country began experiencing moderate to severe drought.
As open water sources continue to dry up, residents are being forced to travel longer distances in search of water for their families and livestock. Prices for livestock have plummeted as a result of the desperation, with prices for goats dropping nearly 95 percent. According to UNICEF, more than 1,200 schools have no access to water.
“We have countless challenges. The drought has dried up all our water sources, wiped out our pastures and livestock. The effects are severe and are causing mental problems to some people,” said Umuro Katelo, a resident of Dukana, as he pleaded for help from the government and humanitarian organizations.
Kenyan Red Cross teams began responding to the drought in 2016 through the procurement and distribution of food, animal de-stocking and slaughter, and the delivery of cash—which enables people to prioritize their greatest needs in the midst of emergencies. These interventions have reached more than 53,000 people to date.
American Red Cross’s recent contribution is supporting Kenyan Red Cross teams as they lead the nutrition response in six counties, with mass screening and treatment of malnourished children under five. The teams are targeting high-risk groups, which include pregnant and lactating mothers, people with chronic illnesses, the elderly, and people living with disabilities.
The drought is affecting people in 23 counties, with some impacted areas reporting acute malnutrition as high as 26% of the local population. More than 80% of the pans (hard packed soil) and seasonal rivers are reported to be dry. The situation is expected to worsen over the coming months.
The global Red Cross Red Crescent network is addressing needs with food distribution, water, sanitation, hygiene promotion, as well as basic healthcare.
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Interviews available. Media contact:
American Red Cross 24/7 media line: (202) 303-5551
Anthony Mwangi, Kenya Red Cross Society, +254-739-579-176, firstname.lastname@example.org