accessibility & help

East Africa: malnutrition rates in Dadaab plummet as Red Cross steps in

The Kenya Red Cross has helped cut the number of people suffering from severe malnutrition in part of the world’s largest refugee camp by 75 per cent* over the last nine months.

It began providing essential healthcare and nutrition services at the Ifo II section of Dadaab refugee camp complex in October last year. Nearly two out of every ten children under five there then were severely malnourished; now, it’s fewer than one in 20.

With a total population of 460,000 people, Dadaab is effectively Kenya’s third largest city. In 2011, ongoing violence and insecurity in and around the camp led to many humanitarian agencies withdrawing from the region. This meant that many services – including healthcare – could no longer be adequately provided.

The Kenya Red Cross began managing the Ifo II West camp in Dadaab and providing essential health and nutrition services, emotional support and security training in Ifo II East. It is also promoting good hygiene and, at the request of the UN Refugee Agency, is taking on other water and sanitation services that were previously provided by other agencies.

To combat malnutrition, thousands of children, as well as pregnant and lactating women, are being helped through therapeutic feeding and supplementary feeding programmes.

Many thousands of people still need support

One year on from the severe food shortages Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia suffered last summer, rains and good harvests have helped ease the crisis in many areas. However, many people across the region still face shortages and high food prices. Another failed harvest could be devastating.

Some of the most vulnerable people are refugees and displaced people, who are unable to grow food or earn a living. Over 980,000 Somali refugees are living in countries neighbouring Somalia – and more than 440,000 them currently call Dadaab home.

Barry Armstrong, British Red Cross disaster response manager, said: “These refugees are particularly vulnerable to the food shortages that have plagued east Africa over the past year. The Kenya Red Cross’ work in Dadaab is providing a lifeline to many people.”

The British Red Cross continues to support the Kenya Red Cross’ work at the camp. To date, it has given over £600,000 towards their work in Dadaab.

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*Figures are indicative, based on rapid assessment (measuring people's upper arm circumference), rather than a full nutritional survey.

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