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What are the current issues in Kenya

Kenya largely depends on rain-fed agriculture for its food requirements, relying on the two main rain seasons namely the March–May long rains and October–December short rains. About 80 percent of the land is arid or semi-arid.

WFP operations in Kenya support the Government's efforts in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and Kenya’s Vision 2030, the country’s national development blueprint.

WFP works to help build resilience to droughts through programmes that use food as a means to build assets, spread knowledge and nurture stronger, more dynamic communities. This helps communities become more food secure.

Kenya largely depends on rain-fed agriculture for its food requirements, relying on the two main rainy seasons - the long rains from March to May and the short rains from October to December. About 80% of the land is arid or semi arid.

WFP depends on the assessments of the long and short rains to determine the number of people needing food assistance. The long rains assessment has just been completed by the government in collaboration with various agencies, including WFP, and it indicates that 1.5 million people will be in need of food assistance through early 2015, an increase of about 15 percent from February. These people will be assisted by both WFP and the Government of Kenya.

WFP is gradually transitioning from short-term interventions to recovery initiatives such as asset creation. Through these WFP is helping communities, in collaboration with the Government, to improve their resilience and adaptability to weather related shocks while encouraging them to invest in their future. Over half the interventions are in resilience-building with some 700,000 people benefitting from these projects which use food or cash transfers as a means to build assets, spread knowledge and nurture stronger, more dynamic communities. Read more

School meals remain an important safety net for many communities. WFP provides school meals to 770,000 children in 1,700 schools in the northern arid districts and in the slums of Nairobi. WFP also provides a mid-morning meal for all primary and pre-primary school children at the refugee camps.

In the semi-arid regions of the country, Kenya’s Ministry of Education is feeding another 750,000 school children through the Home Grown School Feeding programme. Having previously managed the programme, WFP is now building the capacity of the Government to oversee it, particularly in areas such as procurement, and monitoring and evaluation.

WFP recently launched a Cash Transfers to Schools pilot project in Isiolo County to test the viability of using cash assistance to purchase the food for school meals locally rather than providing the food itself. If successful the model will be used for the Government’s home-grown school meals programme in arid areas and will facilitate the transition from WFP support to government support in these areas.

WFP operations also include support to about 500,000 refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in north-eastern and north-western Kenya, respectively. Severe funding shortfalls in November and December 2013 resulted in WFP having to cut the general food rations by 20 percent for refugees in these camps. Full rations were resumed in January following new funding from donors in response to a joint appeal by WFP and UNHCR.

Since the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan in mid-December last year, Kakuma has received more than 42,000 refugees, pushing the camp beyond its 150,000 capacity. An average of 300 new refugees continues to arrive daily, most of who are women and children.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Kenya

As the food assistance arm of the United Nations, the World Food Programme (WFP) uses its food resources to meet emergency needs as well as to support economic and social development. WFP aims to save lives in emergency situations, improve the nutrition and quality of life of the most vulnerable-- particularly children, pregnant women and nursing mothers -- and help rural communities build assets to promote their resilience to droughts and boost self-reliance.

An estimated 1.3 million Kenyans are food insecure and in need of assistance, mostly in the arid and semi-arid lands of Northern Kenya. To address malnutrition, WFP and the Government of Kenya are providing nutrition support through targeted supplementary feeding programmes in arid and semi-arid areas. The Government is providing a nutrient-fortified, ready-to-eat food, to 40,000 moderately malnourished children under the age of five years. WFP is providing 25,000 moderately malnourished pregnant and nursing mothers with Supercereal, a highly nutritious blended food that is fortified with extra protein and essential micro-nutrients.

  • School Feeding

WFP is providing school meals to about 770,000 school children in Kenya. These are the most vulnerable children living in arid and semi-arid lands, semi-arid coastal districts and the slums of Nairobi. WFP also provides a mid-morning meal for all primary and pre-primary school children at the refugee camps.

In the semi-arid regions of the country, the Ministry of Education is in charge of feeding another 750,000 school children through the national Home Grown School Feeding programme. These schools previously fell under the WFP programme but have been taken over by the Government under the terms of a gradual hand-over policy. WFP is helping build government capacity in a number of areas such as procurement, and monitoring and evaluation, to ensure a smooth transition.

  • Support to Refugees

Kenya hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world, with an estimated 500,000 refugees currently in the country. The provision of vital food supplies to these refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma camps represents an enormous financial commitment and a logistical challenge. Since the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan in mid-December last year, Kakuma has received about 30,000 refugees, pushing the camp beyond its 150,000 capacity. An average of 300 new refugees continues to arrive daily, most of whom are women and children.

WFP is providing refugees from south Sudan with nutrition bars, at the Nadapal border post where they arrive exhausted and hungry. Upon reaching the reception centers the refugees are provided with a cooked meal as they await registration and are then moved to a temporary site to be registered in the biometric system that will then allow them to get monthly food rations which are distributed every two weeks.

Children between the age of 6 and 23 months, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers, also receive porridge highly fortified with nutrients. Moderately malnourished children under 5 are receiving Plumpy sup, a ready to eat paste, to treat the condition.

  • Longer term solutions

As it transitions from drought relief to recovery activities in northern areas, WFP is expanding its Food-for-Assets (FFA) and Cash–for-Assets (CFA) projects which are designed to promote food security. These activities focus on rainwater harvesting for human and livestock use, soil and water conservation, rehabilitation of degraded agricultural land and the production of drought-tolerant crops. Through new or rehabilitated assets, and the development of relevant skills, communities can improve their resilience to weather related shocks and can invest in a more sustainable future. Some 700,000 people – about 55% of those receiving food assistance in Kenya-- will benefit from these projects, either through food distribution or cash transfers. Read more.

Purchase for Progress (P4P) is a pilot programme through which WFP is promoting agricultural market development and access for small holder farmers. WFP is improving the capacity of smallholder farmers to engage in agricultural markets for their produce. Capacity building involves post-harvest handling, market information systems and access to storage facilities. In implementing P4P, WFP works closely with the Ministry of Agriculture as well as with partners at district level to increase production and quality, and to encourage farmers to grow drought-tolerant crops. Read more

Featured Kenya publications

  • Kenya: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 413 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Kenya? Visit the Kenya publications archive.