Threats to Food Security

Threats to Food Security
  • Poverty
  • High demographic growth
  • Arid and semi-arid lands in the north and east
  • Droughts


Kenya is experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent years. Northern Kenya is particularly affected and the government has declared the drought in this region a national disaster. The poor March to May 2011 long rains, coming successively after the failed October to December 2010, have greatly undermined the food security situation in the country. Up to 3.5 million people are affected by the drought and their plight has been worsened by high food prices resulting from both local and global factors. A mid-season assessment of the March to May long rains indicated a dismal performance of the rains and it is projected that up to 3.5 million people will need food assistance from August, a 1.1 million increase from the current 2.4 million.  The actual number will be determined by the July long rains assessment, the results of which are expected in August.
The number of severely malnourished children admitted to hospital has increased by 78 percent this year compared to last year. Malnutrition rates among children below the age of five years have risen dramatically with reports of up to 37 percent in some northern districts -- more than double the emergency threshold of 15 percent. The most affected districts are Turkana, Moyale, Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit. WFP is providing supplementary food assistance to about 80,000 children and pregnant and nursing mothers. To curb the increase in the rate of malnutrition in northern Kenya, WFP is strengthening the supplementary food assistance safety net by linking it to general food distribution to ensure that the supplementary food is used to address malnutrition among those affected. In addition, WFP plans to give blanket supplementary food assistance to all children under the age of five and pregnant and lactating mothers in the six most affected districts in northern Kenya.

Dadaab refugee camp in north-eastern Kenya continues to receive large influxes of refugees mainly from Somalia with about 30,000 new arrivals in June alone. Kenya currently has about 447,000 refugees with Dadaab hosting about 368,000 and Kakuma in north-western Kenya about 79,000. Most of the refugees arriving in Dadaab have high malnutrition rates, having walked long distances with little or no food and water. WFP is providing the new arrivals with a 15-day ration of food at reception centres as they await registration after which they are included in the regular food register for refugees. WFP also provides refugees with supplementary food assistance for malnourished children, pregnant and nursing mothers, in addition to a mid-morning meal for all primary and pre-primary school children and a take home ration for girls.

School meals remain an important safety net for many communities. WFP is providing school meals for 670,500 pre-primary and primary school children in arid and semi arid areas and in the slums in Nairobi. The Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Education is also feeding 610,000 of school children through the Home Grown School Feeding programme.

WFP is gradually scaling down short term interventions in favour of recovery activities such as food-for-assets (FFA) and Seasonal Cash for Assets (SCFA) through which WFP, in collaboration with the government, is developing appropriate skills to enable communities to improve their resilience and adaptation to climate change in addition to encouraging them to invest in their future. About 830,000 people are benefitting under these projects. In addition, WFP is providing a market for small-scale farmers under the purchase for progress (P4P) programme. WFP, working with partners, also builds the capacity of the small-scale farmers in WFP procurement modalities, warehouse management, quality assurance and record keeping.
Kenya is a low-income food-deficit country with a GDP per capita of about US$759 (2009 World Bank) and a Gross National Income (GNI) of USD 1628 (2010 UNDP). The 2010 UNDP Human Development Report ranked Kenya among the “low human development” countries of the world, placing it 128th out of 169countries.
WFP operations in Kenya support the Government's efforts in implementing all eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).



WFP Activities

WFP Activities
As the food assistance arm of the United Nations, WFP uses its food resources to meet emergency needs as well as to support economic and social development. WFP's mission is 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 build assets to promote  self-reliance in  poor communities.
As it transitions from drought relief into recovery activities, 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. The assets and the development of appropriate skills enable communities to improve their resilience in the face of climate change and encourage them to invest in a sustainable future. In 2012, some 950,000 people will benefit from these projects, about half of them through food distributions and half through cash. Read more…
Purchase for Progress (P4P) is a pilot programme through which WFP is using its purchasing power to promote agricultural market development and improve market access to small holder farmers. WFP is improving the capacity of smallholder farmers to engage in agricultural markets and find secure outlets 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. Learn more
WFP Kenya has been assisting refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps since 1991 when the first camp was set up. Currently, nearly 550,000 refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma are receiving regular food assistance from WFP.  In the early months of this year, Kakuma refugee camp started receiving an increase in the number of refugees, most of them from South Sudan.
While nutrition levels have improved considerably in Kenya’s northern districts, malnutrition rates in some areas are still higher than the World Health Organisation’s 15 per cent emergency threshold. Some 20 per cent to 50 per cent of children under five years of age in these districts are at risk of malnutrition. 
To prevent worsening malnutrition, WFP is providing nutrition support through targeted supplementary feeding programmes for 100,000 moderately malnourished children under the age of five years and pregnant and nursing mothers in other districts in pastoral areas of northern Kenya. Moderately malnourished children are receiving Plumpy’Sup, a nutrient-fortified, ready-to-eat food supplement while pregnant and nursing mothers receive Super Cereal, a highly nutritious blended food that is fortified with extra protein and essential micro-nutrients.
To curb malnutrition in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, WFP is providing Super Cereal plus to some 85,000 children in a blanket supplementary feeding programme. Children who are moderately malnourished are receiving Plumpy’Sup through a targeted supplementary feeding programme at health posts in the refugee camps.
In recognition of the vital role played by nutrition in the management of HIV/AIDS, WFP provides food and nutritional support for affected households which are vulnerable. Currently, 78,000 people are supported under the project in Nairobi as well as in Coast, Western, Nyanza and the Rift Valley provinces.
WFP is providing school meals to about 630,000 million 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 provides a mid-morning meal for all primary and pre-primary school children at the refugee camps and a take-home ration for girls to encourage their enrolment and attendance. In the semi-arid regions of the country, the Ministry of Education is in chage of feeding another 650,000 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. In this regard, WFP is helping build Government capacity in a number of areas such as procurement, and monitoring and evaluation, to ensure a smooth transition.



WFP Offices

Head Office