The World Food Program (WFP) has pledged 19,970 metric tons of food to World Vision Kenya for distribution in Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Moyale, Baringo and Turkana Districts. Nearly 300,000 people are set to benefit from the food distributions, which include maize, pulses and vegetable oil.
According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) urgent availability of a balanced and sufficient food basket remains critical in averting a growing food security crisis among more than 1.8 million persons in 26 drought-affected districts in Kenya.
Preliminary results from rapid assessments conducted by members of the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) indicate that food security has worsened significantly. The extended dry season has taken its toll on livestock health and body condition resulting from severe shortages of water, pasture and browse. Reduced access to milk and livestock products, coupled with the inability to purchase high price cereals has also compounded food insecurity.
Monthly monitoring conducted by the Arid Lands and Resource Management Project shows consistently rising rates of child malnutrition in all the pastoral districts. Unfortunately, the Emergency Operation (EMOP) remains under-resourced—nearly 44 percent of the food requirement is unmet. The most significant shortfall is that of pulses and supplementary food, FEWS NET reported.
For the last three weeks, World Vision has been hiring and training additional staff for the relief initiative.
In Turkana, the distributions will be a continuation of the WV Kenya/Government of Kenya food aid program, which just concluded. During the four-month relief program, which finished on Sept. 30, World Vision distributed 3,483 metric tons of maize, 606 metric tons of beans and 189 metric tons of vegetable oil to 125,368 people in ten divisions of Turkana District.
World Vision Kenya has signed contracts with WFP to begin relief food programs in Turkana, Kilifi and Taita Taveta Districts. Meanwhile, World Vision support offices in the US, Japan, Austria, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong are contributing funds to match the WFP food programs in those districts.
World Vision has also sent the WFP budgets for programs in Moyale and Baringo Districts - which are targeted in the second phase of the program.
FEWS NET reports that while the recovery of pastoral livelihoods from crisis can take many years, drought-affected marginal agricultural households are likely to recover faster should the rains continue to be favorable. Many of these households depend overwhelmingly on the short-rains season and therefore a good harvest in February 2005 would substantially reduce relief food needs.