Over 70,000 children malnourished in Kenya

Headteacher Mr Omar talks to pupils as they eat food provided by the Kenya Red Cross Society. PHOTO: COURTESY

Nairobi, KENYA: Nearly 73,000 children in Kenya are severely malnourished and are at risk of dying from drought-related hunger unless urgent aid is made immediately available.

This is according to the survey conducted in eight counties by the county departments of health ,UNICEF and aid organizations working on the ground including “Save the Children”.

According to the National Nutrition Technical Specialist Daniel Muhinja, unprecedented 12 per cent of children less than five years in Turkana County, suffer from severe acute malnutrition that is majorly caused by drought and lack of sufficient rainfall.

The assessments also reveal alarming rate in East Pokot which stands at 5.8 per cent , Mandera 5.2 percent ,Samburu 3.8 per cent, and West Pokot 3.2 percent, as counties that has witnessed extreme deterioration in nutrition and food security.

The survey also shows that,in neighboring Somalia, the risk is that once the high rates of malnutrition combine with disease outbreaks prompted by lack of clean water, large numbers of young children will start to die from hunger and related complications like diarrhea.

According to the county director of ‘Save the Children’ in Kenya, Francis Woods, the drought has left thousands of children and families including the most vulnerable under five, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers; in a life threatening situation, thus, calling for the national and county government to act urgently to prevent children from dying by averting hunger tragedy unfolding in many parts of the country.

“Following the general election nearly two weeks ago, the aid organizations are urgently calling on the national and local governments who are leading on drought response, in coordination with aid agencies to prioritize critical funds and support for the response. This includes food programmes to reach the most vulnerable and prevent needless deaths.” Said Woods.

He added that nearly 40,000 pregnant and nursing women across Kenya are malnourished, which translate to 20% an increase from last year thus leaving their children’s lives hanging in the balance.

“Families in some of the hardest-hit areas have been pushed to the brink with the loss of their livestock,which they depend on for their livelihood,food and milk. Many of them are now barely surviving on just a meal a day,when they can find it. Many mothers can no longer breastfeed their babies because they are too starved to produce enough milk,” added Mr.Woods.