Drought in Kenya: more than 420,000 children affected by malnutrition
The hunger crisis is spreading in East Africa. In Kenya, malnutrition has affected more than 420,000 children. Terre des hommes (Tdh) currently operates in Garissa County, near the Somalian border, where more than 26,000 children are suffering malnutrition. We are now planning to extend our activities.
Food shortages are increasing in severity throughout East Africa. Following the severe famine in South Sudan, malnutrition is gaining ground in Kenya. More than 420,000 Kenyan children have already been affected, with 80,000 at risk of dying. “The situation is likely to get worse. Every year, the effects of the drought are compounded by climate change and insufficient rainfall,” says Marie Joron, who runs our Kenyan delegation.
Terre des hommes is currently present in the north-eastern county of Garissa, near the Somalian border. This zone, which has been affected by violence perpetrated by armed groups such as al-Shabaab, is home to Dadaab refugee camp, one of the largest in the world. We began working in the region in 2011, during the Horn of Africa food crisis.
“The persistent drought has had a devastating effect on the lives of children in Garissa County. More than 26,000 children are undernourished, and almost all of the region’s children are directly impacted by the decrease in available food, water and health services. The drought has also had negative side effects in terms of child protection. In order to survive, vulnerable families are pushing children to work in dangerous conditions or forcing daughters to get married,” explains Marie Joron. Terre des hommes is breaking this cycle by closely accompanying children and providing targeted support to families.
We work alongside the Kenyan Ministry of Health to support government efforts to tackle malnutrition and improve food quality and access. In addition to training medical staff, we ensure that children under five and their mothers can obtain appropriate treatment. The county’s food situation is closely monitored so relief can be provided to victims in a timely manner. Given the scale of the emergency, the activities of Terre des hommes will be extended to the neighbouring county, Tana River, as soon as possible. They will also incorporate water, hygiene and sanitation projects to tackle the issues of drought and cholera.
Photo credit: ©Mélanie Rouiller