Turkana, Kenya/credit: Giro Boru (Concern 2019)
Concern Worldwide is helping communities in Kenya respond to a devastating drought which hit in late 2021. The drought is affecting over 2 million people including 111,000 children at risk of death from starvation. Declared a national emergency by the government, it has dried up water sources and killed livestock and food crops across almost half the country.
“More than 111,000 children under the age of five years are severely malnourished and at risk of loss of life without humanitarian assistance,” said Concern’s Country Director in Kenya, Arshad Muhammad.
“The areas impacted are already the poorest and most food insecure in the country. Families who had to walk 2-5km each day to get clean water are now having to walk twice or three times that distance.”
Little or no rain has fallen during the past two rainy seasons and the situation is expected to get worse.
Kenya has experienced emergency droughts every 10 years since 1904 when records in the country began, but since 2001, they have occurred every three to five years.
“The increased frequency means the affected populations don’t get enough time to recover and rebuild their assets before the next drought,” added Mr Muhammad. “It is the opinion of many that this is an example of the impact climate change can have. Our immediate focus is to help alleviate the suffering and extreme poverty these droughts cause. The drought has affected all farming and livestock, which means families struggle to find enough food to eat and we are very concerned for young children with less or no milk available.”
He said that over 520,000 children under the age of five in Kenya are currently acutely malnourished with over 110,000 of these severely malnourished, which means they are more likely to die from poor nutrition without treatment.
Concern, which has been working in Kenya since 2002, is helping the Kenyan authorities by supporting government officials and community volunteers who are going to households and screening children for acute malnutrition and by helping to provide the treatment the children need.
Concern’s Kenyan team are also repairing lifesaving water wells and boreholes in addition to treating and vaccinating livestock that are facing drought-related diseases.