The US Agency for International Development on Monday February 27 announced $126 million in additional food assistance to Kenya as ongoing drought continues to bite.
Through a statement on Monday, USAID said the donation will help alleviate the situation for more than four million people in the grips of a dire hunger crisis, with the number expected to rise to over five million by June.
The announcement comes following a visit to the country by US First Lady Jill Biden.
“After a fifth failed rainy season in the Horn of Africa, cumulative rainfall in Kenya is now less than 70 per cent of the 30-year average across most of the country – exacerbating humanitarian needs. Communities in the arid and semi–arid land counties of Kenya are experiencing the worst effects of the drought, as farmers are losing crops and millions of livestock, and increasingly scarce resources, such as water, food, and pasture, are driving intercommunal tensions and violence,” the stamen said.
USAID said the donation will help its partners to meet urgent needs for approximately 1.3 million people across Kenya. It will provide emergency food items such as sorghum, maize, yellow split peas, and vegetable oil for families living in areas where local markets are not functioning.
“Additionally, in areas where markets are functioning, partners will provide cash-based assistance for families to purchase food staples, which will, in turn, support local economies.
USAID will also support programs to prevent and treat child malnutrition, as more than 970,000 children ages five and younger are acutely malnourished across the country. USAID commends the strong partnership of the Government of Kenya and county administrations, and commits to continuing to invest in Kenya’s economic recovery and growth,” the statement added.
Welcoming the donation, President William Ruto said, “On behalf of the people of Kenya, my profound gratitude to ?? government for this generous support to very deserving people suffering the worst drought due to 4 years consecutive failed rains”.
President Ruto added that water harvesting to enhance food and livestock production and manage climate change effects would help mitigate the situation in future.
USAID said due to the magnitude of the crisis, more funding will be required to meet expected humanitarian needs through 2023.
Unicef says at least Sh17 billion will be required to meet the needs of children and families affected by drought in Kenya in 2023.
According to Unicef Kenya Representative Shaheen Nilofer, Sh2 billion has been received mainly for nutrition supplies, leaving a gap of Sh15 billion, or 86 per cent.
The target is to reach at least 300,000 people through emergency monthly cash transfers. Estimates show around 2.8 million people in drought-affected areas need monthly cash transfers to buy food and water, clothes, medicines, pay school fees and other daily essentials.
In July 2022, USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced $1.3 billion in additional critical humanitarian and development assistance to help stave off mass starvation and deaths.
USAID on Monday, however, said the drought response across the Horn of Africa remains underfunded by the broader international community, and needs only continue to grow.
“Ultimately, the United States cannot solve this crisis alone, which is why we urgently call on all donors to again step up and provide immediate, generous assistance to help alleviate the suffering of millions of people across the Horn of Africa who face the threat of starvation in this historic drought,” USAID said.