WFP today reiterated its appeal for US$25 million to assist 1.2 million people in Kenya -- particularly the Northeast -- hit by critical food shortages.
"We are very concerned that our appeal did not produce enough pledges. The situation in Northeastern Province, home to 900,000 of the most vulnerable people, has deteriorated since July. More livestock, including camels, are dying," said WFP Kenya Country Director Tesema Negash.
“The animals that are still alive have to walk further and further for water.”
“We need donations now if food is to reach these people in time to avoid mass suffering because of drought. This problem is not going to go away if it is ignored,” Negash said.
We need donations now if food is to reach these people in time to avoid mass suffering because of drought
Tesema Negash, WFP country director
Following erratic long rains this year, the impact of the October-December short rains will not be seen for several months. Reports from marginal agricultural areas indicate increasing food shortages among families.
The planting season has started but the first crops are only expected in early 2006.
Though Kenya is expected to have a good harvest in the western part of the country, food aid deliveries to the most food insecure areas are vital during the coming months until the impact of the rains can be felt.
With little purchasing power in the Northeast, a food surplus in the West does not mean that other areas with a lack of food will be able to meet their food needs.
The Kenya Food Security Steering Group, which consists of the government, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and donors, is closely monitoring the Northeast and in response to reports of the worsening situation endorsed an increase in relief food for some 92,000 additional beneficiaries in Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Tana River Districts.
Launched by the WFP and the Government in July 2004 after poor rains in eastern, southern and parts of northern Kenya, the drought emergency operation was extended in September for six months for 1.2 million people at a value of US$25 million.
The minister of state in charge of special programmes, Njenga Karume, said that the government has noted the slow response by donors to the appeal made on 13 September. Karume said that the government was still appealing to donors to come forward with their pledges of food or cash.
The government has already donated 5,000 metric tons of maize to the appeal fund. About 47,000 tons are still needed for the WFP/Government of Kenya joint emergency operation (EMOP) to feed some 1.2 million people until February 2006.
A comprehensive assessment in July by the Government, UN agencies and NGOs to determine the impact of the 2005 long rains on drought-affected Kenyans found areas of critical need persisted, particularly in the Southeast and rural areas of the Coast and Northeastern Province.
The unusual pattern of the long rains this year, with most of the heavy rain falling in May instead of April, affected this year’s harvests, particularly in the Eastern and coastal lowlands.