Garissa, The United Nations and humanitarian partners in Kenya are appealing for $472.6 million to help 4.3 million drought-affected people in 2023, in support of the Government-led response, as the crisis is expected to worsen.
During a visit to Garissa County on 21 November, the Deputy President of Kenya, His Excellency Rigathi Gachagua, the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, Dr. Stephen Jackson, and the UN Environment Programme Executive Director, Inger Andersen, called on the international community to step-up their solidarity with communities who are facing the devastating consequences of the longest and most severe drought in Kenya’s recent history.
The Deputy President of Kenya said: “We are here today in Garissa to bring a spotlight to the suffering being endured by Kenyans as a result of the global climate crisis. Our resources cannot be sufficient to address the challenges of climate change. Therefore, the Government is appealing for assistance to address the resource gap in implementing drought interventions to minimise losses and catastrophic farming yields.”
Needs in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya continue to rise as the region faces its fifth consecutive below-average rainy season from October to December 2022. Humanitarian partners estimate that there will be 6.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2023 in the ASALs region of Kenya. At least 4.35 million people are going to bed hungry and about 5 million people cannot access enough water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Families are taking desperate measures to survive, including fleeing their homes in search of sustenance, and the risks faced by women and girls have risen sharply since the drought began. There are also growing reports of children dropping out of school and child marriage cases.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, Dr. Stephen Jackson, said: “The Government and humanitarian partners have stepped up our collective response in 2022 to help save lives and alleviate the suffering caused by this unprecedented drought, but we urgently need more funding to avert the worst-case scenario in 2023. Let us hold in our heads and hearts that each one of those 6.4 million who urgently need our help, is an individual with hopes and dreams like Asha Kasmis. The 6-year-old Asha was forced to flee her home with her family, here in Garissa, and drop out of school to help her mother cope with the drought.” He adds, “We must not, we cannot, and we will not fail Asha Kasmis!”
Despite being an underfunded crisis, 89 humanitarian partners reached nearly 1 million people with vital assistance between January and September 2022, complementing the Government-led response to the drought. This includes 763,000 people who were assisted with access to safe drinking water, received sanitation and hygiene items. Humanitarians also reached 600,000 people with food assistance, including in-kind food, cash transfers or livelihood support. In addition, 293,000 children under age five and pregnant and lactating women received treatment for severe or moderate acute malnutrition. Multi-purpose cash was delivered to 176,000 people, enabling them to make dignified choices and purchase what they most needed.
However, the exceptional duration and severity of this drought—which is longer than any in recent history—is outpacing the response. In pastoral areas, herders have already lost 2.5 million livestock as a result of the drought. Early projections indicate the possibility of a sixth consecutive poor rainy season from March to May 2023.
The Executive Director of UNEP said: “What we are seeing in Garissa today is the human face of the climate crisis. The people of Kenya—who contribute less than 0.1 per cent of global greenhouse gases—are bearing the brunt of global warming and urgently need our support, both now and well into the future. It is critical that climate finances are immediately unlocked to help people like those I’ve met here to rapidly adapt to their changing environment.”
The Deputy President was joined by Cabinet Secretaries Alice Wahome and Rebecca Miano for Water and Sanitation, and the East African Community (EAC) and (ASALs) and Regional Development, respectively. The delegation was hosted by the Governor of Garissa, Nathif Jama Adam, Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi, who serves as the Deputy Chair of the Council of Governors and local area members of parliament.
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs