WFP Responds to Kenyan Food Crisis

Published on 18 March 2009
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NAIROBI – WFP is responding to the food crisis in Kenya by scaling up operations in order to be able to feed 3.5 million people hit by drought and high food prices. Read news release

“Kenyans already struggling with drought and high food prices are now being hit by the financial crisis,” said WFP Kenya Country Director Burkard Oberle.

The financial crisis means the amount of money coming to Kenyan families from relatives working abroad has fallen. This, in addition to crop failures, means that hundreds of thousands people are now struggling to find enough food for even one meal a day. 

Children are being sent out to work to earn money and girls like Lazuwa Nyamawi have to break stones so their families can earn extra cash. 

Lost all crops

Because of the failure of the October-December short rains, many subsistence farmers in southeastern and coastal areas lost all their crops. Some families need food assistance until the next short rains harvest in 2010.

Rates of child malnutrition in pastoral and marginal agricultural districts are already beginning to reach or surpass crisis levels. 

High food prices have exacerbated the Kenyan food crisis. Maize prices have increased by up to 130 percent in parts of the country since last year. Inflation and high fuel and fertilizer prices stopped farmers producing larger harvests.

Beneficiaries in rural areas

The 3.5 million people to receive WFP food assistance are concentrated in rural areas. In addition, the Government has identified around 4 million people in urban areas as food insecure, plus 1.9 million affected by HIV/AIDS.

The new WFP operation will help people rebuild and increase the resilience of their livelihoods in the longer-term and provide WFP the flexibility to scale up operations in times of crisis.

WFP is appealing to donors for a total of US$244 million dollars to prevent the most vulnerable people in Kenya from going hungry.

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Martin Penner

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Martin Penner, a former journalist, has worked for WFP since 2008.