- Kenya is facing one of its most serious food crises during the last decades. The country is suffering from an agricultural crisis and an estimated 2.3 million people now need emergency assistance. The UN thus today appealed for US$ 97 million to help get food and basic supplies to Kenya.
The food aid appeal was launched in coordination with the Kenyan government and international and non-governmental organisations. It covers the next six months through February 2005 and focuses on six key areas: food, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, education, agriculture and livestock, and coordination and support services.
According to reports from UN agencies, Kenya is suffering "a massive crop failure due to irregular rainfall patterns and contamination of grain reserves by aflatoxin, a toxin created by grain mould." This on 14 July prompted President Mwai Kibaki to declare a state of emergency and appeal for international humanitarian aid.
Food production in five of the country's seven provinces will account for only roughly 40 percent of what is needed this year. This makes this year the worst agricultural season in Kenya for decades. Kenya's problems are made worse by chronic high levels of poverty and exacerbated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Of the 2.3 million Kenyans in need of emergency relief, 1.8 million require general food distribution and 500,000 school children take part in the school feeding programme. The total amount of food needed for the next six months is about 166,000 tons, according to the UN.
In addition to distributing food to the most severely affected areas, the UN appeal seeks to distribute seeds to areas with high crop loss, prevent measles through a massive vaccination campaign, increase efforts in ongoing nutritional programmes, rehabilitate water sources, retain children in school through school feeding programmes and provide curative measures for livestock.
UN agencies currently working with the Kenyan government to improve the situation are the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
For its part, FAO asked for US$ 3.6 million to cover four emergency farming projects to help rural families threatened by hunger. "With the short-season rains coming in October, vulnerable households do not have the capacity to assure their future well-being without assistance," said Bruce Isaacson, the agency's representative in Kenya.
- FAO sees the need for urgent intervention to preserve and rebuild the livelihoods of affected people and to reduce the causes of food insecurity," Mr Isaacson added.
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