There is an urgent need to move rapidly with an early and coordinated response to address the deteriorating food and nutrition situation in the northern parts of Kenya.
According to the Kenya Humanitarian Partnership Team, of which World Vision is a member, lack of a timely response to an already worsening situation could lead to an emergency level comparable to that experienced in 2011 horn of Africa drought.
Early warnings indicate the overall nutrition situation has deteriorated considerably in the arid and semi-arid counties. Preliminary results of a nutrition survey conducted under the leadership of the Ministry of Health between May and June show that some counties like Turkana have reached Very Critical levels recording more than 20 per cent Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates when compared to the same time last year. This is beyond the 15 per cent World Health Organisation threshold. According to UNICEF’s Humanitarian Situation report of June, the results also show that on average one out of four children is acutely malnourished.
An independent rapid assessment carried out in June by World Vision in Baringo county, found out that the worsening drought conditions have resulted to children staying away from schools due to lack of food at home. Also as parents go to look for food they leave children behind and unattended leaving them vulnerable to various forms of abuse.
"We are already witnessing children and their families resorting to risky coping mechanisms like dropping out of school, trekking to neighboring villages and some mechanisms which could have irreversible effects, just as we saw in 2011” says Dickens Thunde, World Vision Kenya National Director. "The impact of the worsening food situation especially on the lives of children is of deep concern," he adds.
In 2012, Oxfam and Save the Children released a report: a dangerous delay, which faulted governments and agencies for not acting on information from early warnings to respond in a timely manner.
Partners have therefore been urged to heed to these early warnings and immediately scale up emergency nutrition interventions with broader multi-sectoral response to address multiple household vulnerabilities, which primarily affect the nutritional status of children.
World Vision is supporting county governments in contingency planning as well as pursuing funding from potential donors to support food assistance, treatment and management of acute malnutrition, water, hygiene and sanitation and child friendly spaces in the 26 programs expected to be hard hit. World Vision has depleted most of its response funds for this financial year.