, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 18 – The World Food Programme (WFP) says it is running out of food to feed millions of hungry Kenyans in need of food assistance.
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said in a statement on Friday that they had only Sh1.8 billion to buy food, against the Sh22 billion needed to feed 3.8 million people over the next six months.
“The funding shortfall is so severe that we will have to start reducing the size of rations early next month (October) – the hardship people are facing is going from bad to worse,” he said.
This revelation came as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS) made a Sh589 million emergency fund appeal for people affected by the current drought in the country.
Kenya Red Cross Society (KRC) Secretary General Abbas Gullet said that the funds will be used to purchase food and medicine to help the 1.6 million people who are in dire need of food and other assistance.
He said that it would be used to buy seedlings for farmers and also to bring piped water to places affected by the drought.
“We are talking about addressing the needs of half a million school going children. Even to get one meal a day is a major challenge and hustle to them. When we talk about food and security, we need to look at long-term solutions to this problem,” he added.
The KRC Secretary General also called on corporate organisations to join in the endeavor to make it a success. “We all have a lot of responsibility but I would like to really ask the ordinary Kenyan, private sector and the corporates to join in and contribute to the international appeal,” he said.
The appeal is intended last six months and it will also help the society to prepare itself for the impending El Nino rains expected next month.
More than 10 million peopled are affected by the acute drought that continues to affect most parts of the country. Kenya as a whole has seen an unprecedented rise in food prices especially on the staple maize flour which has gone up by 80 percent.
Mr Gullet said that lack of water and pasture is also to blame for the increasing number of conflicts between communities struggling to survive.
He stated that the first alarm signals were triggered in January this year when clashes erupted in the Mandera Region in North Eastern Kenya.
He observed that similar fights were also taking place in the Isiolo region in Northern Kenya towards the border with Ethiopia.
“Pastoralists cannot sit and watch their livestock die and their livelihoods disappear. So they will fight for every drop of water and metre of grass available,” Mr Gullet stated.
“It is in our power to intervene to prevent loss of human life and restore the dignity of our people.”
The situation was further compounded by the outbreaks of diarreal diseases like cholera and dysentery which remain a public health concern.
The emergency operations planned will include the expansion of a school feeding programme targeting children in Mwingi, Makueni, Kitui and Machakos districts as well as the rehabilitation of water facilities and hygiene promotion among pastoralist communities.
The above situation has also been aggravated by the effects of the post election violence that affected most parts of the country.
The resultant displacement left many people unable to cultivate their farms. This was further worsened after thousands of others were affected by flash floods in the later part of the year, with devastating destruction of farmlands, properties, and water and sanitation infrastructure.
This complex emergency has impacted negatively to livelihoods in most of the affected areas, with the most vulnerable groups being those living in urban slums, pastoralists and farmers in remote, arid and semi-arid lands, which amass to 80% of the Kenyan landscape.
In the pastoral areas, average walking distance to water has doubled and exerted undue pressure on existing boreholes that serve both humans and livestock.