accessibility & help

Millions of Kenyans in dire need of food, water and safety

25 September 2009

Man stands in drought stricken fieldAndreï Engstrand-Neacsu/IFRCMillions of Kenyans are struggling to get enough food to eat due to three consecutive droughts, the effects of the 2008 post-election violence and the rise in global food prices.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched an appeal to support the Kenya Red Cross Society as it responds to the emergency. It will provide food aid, seeds, emergency health and care and improve access to water for 1.7 million people over the next six months.

Andrei Engstrand-Neacsu, Federation communications manager in Nairobi, says: “The situation is beyond serious now. Elephants are already dying in the game reserves because of the drought. Pastoralist communities are hopelessly watching their cattle dying. They say that when animals start dying, humans are next in line.”

Beyond serious

With urgent humanitarian assistance needed for more than 10 million people affected by this drought, the British Red Cross has released £149,000 from its Disaster Fund to support the appeal.

Following an early warning issued by meteorological institutions about severe rains over the coming months, a Red Cross recovery programme will distribute seeds to 150,000 farming households in the lower eastern parts of the country.

Pete Garratt, British Red Cross disaster relief manager, said: “The Disaster Fund money will be used to buy and distribute seeds to 15,000 households, so they have something to plant when the rains come. Currently seed stocks have been decimated due to previous failed harvests and hunger leading people to eat any remaining seeds.”

Emergency operations

Red Cross emergency operations include the extensive delivery of food aid and the expansion of a school feeding programme, reaching 500,000 children in Mwingi, Makueni, Kitui and Machakos districts. The organisation is also rehabilitating water facilities and doing hygiene promotion among pastoralist communities.

Andrei continues: “In the north, in the Isiolo region, there are ongoing clashes over water and pasture. People are travelling from miles around to the few boreholes that still have water, I’ve seen people who have travelled many miles waiting with their cattle for three days for their turn for water. I’ve seen people digging down into dry river beds for four or five feet, desperate to find some water.

“One thing that really brings it home is that the Masai are bringing their cattle much closer into urban areas. They are even bringing the cattle into the city to graze, we can see their skinny bony cattle right here in the heart of the capital.”

A donation from our Disaster Fund has been made in response to this crisis. Contributions to the Disaster Fund will not be used directly in response to this disaster, but will be used in response to other emergencies in the future.

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