By John Ouko,
November 20th, 2017
Over 70,000 children in Kenya’s Northern frontier are staring at imminent death as a result of a severe acute malnutrition, a report by a consortium of International Non-governmental Organizations has revealed.
The report shows that child malnutrition rates which are already at critical levels, has over 400,000 children aged between 6 to 59 months and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in urgent need of treatment for acute malnutrition.
In a joint statement by the International NGOs released by World Vision International, there is an alarming malnutrition rate in Turkana, East Pokot, Mandera and Samburu regions, as well as other drought affected hot spots of Northern Kenya.
The statement decried the lack of funding available to mitigate such effects of drought that has now placed the lives of the over 70,000 children on the line and more than 3.4 million people in need of urgent aid, up from 2,7 million people in January this year.
“The drought has left tens of thousands of children and families including the most vulnerable under-five, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in a life threatening situation,” says Francis Woods, Save the Children’s Interim Country Director in Kenya.
The survey shows that in Turkana alone, severe acute malnutrition rates which is actually the most life threatening form of hunger are up nearly four times in just one year. In the Southern of the vast county, 12% of children under the age of five now suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
According to a World Vision Kenya community nutritionist based in Turkana, June Cherutich, “children are the main casualties of this drought. Every day, I feel and see the real faces of hunger and despair as I attend to them.” She added, “Many children I work with in Turkana south and east arrive at health facilities unable to walk due to poor nutrition and are in desperate need.”
World Vision Kenya National Director François Batalingaya called on the International Community to make more funds available to support the Kenyan government and aid agencies working on the ground to stop the already critical situation from spiralling. He said that if not checked, it would worsen an already extremely dangerous situation for Kenya’s children and mothers.
Patrick Mweki, the Country Director for Action Against Hunger pointed out that despite government cash transfers, many households in the country’s northern region are still not able to meet their daily recommended food requirements. “A recent cost of diet assessment in Turkana County by our survey revealed that nearly 40,000 pregnant and nursing women across Kenya are malnourished. This is about a 20% increase from last year, leaving their lives and that of their children hanging in the balance.” He said.
Save the Children and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund shows that even households classified as better off can no longer afford three meals a day.