Kenya crisis: WFP food starts to reach Nairobi slums

Published on 11 January 2008

The Kenya Red Cross Society and local partners start distributing food assistance today from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Kenya to tens of thousands of people in the Nairobi slums hardest-hit after days of post-election violence.

The Kenya Red Cross Society and local partners started distributing food assistance today from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Kenya to tens of thousands of people in the Nairobi slums hardest-hit after days of post-election violence.

It was the first time WFP food was handed out in the slums in a general food distribution. The Government of Kenya provided cereals to the Kenya Red Cross (KRC) while WFP gave the pulses, high energy biscuits, vegetable oil and corn-soya blend needed for a full food basket.

Shantytown

The distributions started in the vast Kibera shantytown and by the end of the day were also scheduled to be completed in three other slums – Mathare, Dandora and Korogocho.

A total of 500 families of six people each were supposed to receive a one-week ration of food at 12 sites. But queues of many thousands swiftly formed at the sites and it appeared that greater numbers of people would receive smaller amounts of food than the planned ration.

Priority

The Nairobi slums – some of the largest in Africa -- are a priority for food distributions because most slum dwellers rely on casual labour to survive and were unable to work during the unrest and what little food that was on sale had became too expensive for the poorest.

Of Nairobi’s population of 2.75 million, almost 60 percent live in the city’s slums. Even in normal times, almost two-thirds of the people in the slums struggle to survive on less than US$1 a day. Crime and violence are rife in the slums, where basic services are scarce.

Helicopter

In another development, a WFP-chartered Mi-8 helicopter flew from Nairobi to the northern Rift Valley town of Eldoret today and started ferrying WFP assessment teams to locate scattered pockets of displaced people in need of humanitarian assistance in the region.

The helicopter, which flew into Kenya from Sudan, will in the coming days also fly WFP food assistance and other assistance from UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to people cut off by the violence that erupted following the 27 December elections.

Kenya Red Cross

WFP provides non-cereals to the KRC for distribution in western Kenya and the northern Rift. The Government of Kenya meanwhile is providing the cereal portion to the KRC.

WFP food assistance has so far reached at least 46,000 displaced people out of the 71,000 people who have received cereals from the KRC in the Northern Rift. With the Government and WFP contributions, the KRC is distributing a full basket of food to the displaced.

Loans

To respond to the post-election crisis, WFP was able to quickly draw on stocks from its other Kenya operations feeding a total of 2.1 million people – 682,000 affected by drought in the North and Northeast; 1.1 million children in 3,800 schools, including some in the Nairobi slums, 62,000 hit by HIV/Aids and 235,000 refugees in the Northwest and East.

These loans from other operations need to be repaid. WFP will appeal for funds through a UN Flash Appeal in the coming days but is already urging donors to contribute to WFP’s Emergency Operation to avoid breaks in the supply line of food assistance to Kenya.