UN mulls new appeal for funds to fight Kenya hunger

A woman and her children await food rations in Turkana on March 21, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A woman and her children await food rations in Turkana on March 21, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Hunger is spreading and intensifying in parts of Kenya as international donations fall short by $121 million (Sh124.6 billion) for the eastern Africa region, the UN has said.

The UN said it will assess the full impact of the long rains in June and may issue an updated appeal for funding.

A “flash appeal” in March for $166 million in aid has so far resulted in $45 million in funding — 27 per cent of the required sum, the UN’s humanitarian affairs unit reported on Tuesday.

“Across Kenya, greater numbers of poor households are expected to be unable to meet their minimum dietary needs. As food and milk consumption decreases, malnutrition is on the rise,” the UN said.

“Families are increasingly reliant on humanitarian interventions to stabilise malnutrition levels. A continued dearth in funding will hinder the ability to deliver critical assistance to people in need.”

Kenya is suffering from a drought that has left about 2.7 million people in need of food aid and driven up inflation to a near-five year high.

“These trends are likely to persist and increase in the months ahead,” the UN warned.

The report sees severe food shortages worsening during the coming lean season in parts of Marsabit and Turkana that are not receiving sustained humanitarian assistance. Lower-than-average rainfall in parts of the country will lead to a poor harvest in July.

Prices for staple foods are expected to remain high as agricultural output is further reduced by outbreaks of the Fall Armyworm in Western Kenya.

The Ministry of Agriculture says maize production will drop by 4.3 million 90kg bags this year on the delayed rains and armyworm attack.