Catastrophic consequences of the recurrent drought in Kenya continue to get worse, leaving communities in dire need of humanitarian aid. About 5.4 million people are projected to face high levels of acute food insecurity between March and June this year, of which 1.2 million people will likely be in the emergency phase. This latest projection highlights a 43% increase of people facing high levels of food insecurity compared to the same period last year.

Although needs are growing, the drought response plans in Kenya still remain underfunded, which significantly restricts the ability of humanitarian organisations to act. 

Mohamed El Montassir, IRC Kenya Country Director said,

“Weather forecasts suggest a reasonable chance that the upcoming March–May rains will again underperform. Should this happen, it would be an unprecedented sixth poor season,with catastrophic humanitarian impacts. About 970,000 children aged 6 - 59 months, and 142,000 pregnant or lactating mothers, in Kenya will likely suffer from acute malnutrition over the course of 2023, and are in need of treatment. This state of malnutrition among these vulnerable populations has compromised their immunity, and increased their risk of exposure to disease. More than 2.4 million livestock, which pastoralist families rely upon for nourishment and livelihood, have died. Desperate and unhealthy coping mechanisms have been adopted by most families to deal with the atrocities of the drought. The drought has further heightened the risk of gender-based violence hampering children’s access to education. The IRC one-stop support center in Dadaab refugee camp saw an increase of 50% of clients who were provided with GBV services compared to 2021. We must act now to save lives, preserve dignity, and protect their future.”

The International Rescue Committee therefore calls on donor countries to reboot the global response to extreme hunger, by revitalizing the High-Level Task Force on Preventing Famine, and closing the treatment gap for acutely malnourished children by adopting a simplified, combined protocol for treatment, and break down the climate-humanitarian divide by increasing the amount and accessibility of adaptation funding to help communities at the frontlines of the climate crisis withstand its effects.

IRC is coordinating with partners in the health sector and beyond, to ramp up its response in the region to avert the worst effects of food insecurity, and to give people access to the health services they need.

The IRC has been working in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, providing essential health and nutrition services to tens of thousands of refugees escaping conflict and natural disaster. We also provide support and care to women and girls who are victims of violence while preparing for further shocks, building resilience, and strengthening key services.