By Christine Muchira/Release
The Government of Japan, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), has contributed US$500,000 to the UNICEF Kenya Country Office in response to the ongoing drought in the country.
This funding will go a long way in responding to the needs of affected communities, especially vulnerable children and women.
At the end of 2016, a severe drought hit arid and semi-arid counties in Kenya.
On February 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the drought a national disaster.
So far 2.7 million people are food insecure and this number is projected to rise to 4 million by April 2017 if the dry season persists.
The United Nations has also issued a flash appeal for US$165.7 million to reach Kenyans with life-saving assistance.
Children and women suffer the most with high levels of malnutrition reported across the country. An estimated 1.1 million children are food insecure with over 100,000 under-fives in need of urgent treatment for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
Additionally, a further 174,000 children have been forced to drop out of school as a result of the drought.
UNICEF Kenya Representative, Werner Schultink says, “Young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women are extremely vulnerable in drought emergencies and their nutritional status must be protected to prevent undernutrition and guarantee survival. Thanks to the generosity of the Government of Japan we can help thousands of children survive and thrive.”
The contribution from MoFA will go towards reducing the morbidity and mortality of 230,765 acutely malnourished children in drought-stricken counties by strengthening preventive and curative nutrition interventions at facility and community level.
This will be achieved by working with the Ministry of Health and other partners to scale up life-saving high-impact nutrition interventions.
Furthermore, UNICEF is working to improve access to safe and adequate water in order to reach 75,000 drought-affected women, men and children and key institutions (health facilities and schools).
An estimated 30 broken-down water points in strategic locations will be repaired and rehabilitated.
Community health volunteers will also undertake the promotion of key hygiene messages to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases.
UNICEF appreciates this grant from the Government of Japan, which will be utilized over a period of six months, to offer much needed relief to families struggling to cope with the devastating impact of the drought.