US provides food aid to Kenya amid drought

The United States provides more than $126 million in food assistance in Kenya as relentless drought drives crisis levels of hunger.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced it is providing more than $126 million in additional food assistance to the people of Kenya as ongoing drought leaves more than four million people in the grips of a dire hunger crisis, with the number expected to rise to over five million by June. The announcement comes following a visit to the country by First Lady Jill Biden.

After a fifth failed rainy season in the Horn of Africa, cumulative rainfall in Kenya is now less than 70 percent of the 30-year average across most of the country – exacerbating humanitarian needs. Communities in the arid and semi–arid land counties of Kenya are experiencing the worst effects of the drought, as farmers are losing crops and millions of livestock, and increasingly scarce resources, such as water, food, and pasture, are driving intercommunal tensions and violence.

The $126 million in food assistance will allow USAID partners to meet urgent needs for approximately 1.3 million people across Kenya. A USAID spokesman said: "We will provide emergency food items such as sorghum, maize, yellow split peas, and vegetable oil for families living in areas where local markets are not functioning. Additionally, in areas where markets are functioning, partners will provide cash-based assistance for families to purchase food staples, which will, in turn, support local economies. USAID will also support programs to prevent and treat child malnutrition, as more than 970,000 children ages five and younger are acutely malnourished across the country. USAID commends the strong partnership of the Government of Kenya and county administrations, and commits to continuing to invest in Kenya’s economic recovery and growth."

Given the magnitude of the current crisis, however, more funding will be required to meet expected humanitarian needs through 2023. USAID, says it has acted early and aggressively in responding to the drought in Kenya, providing nearly $310 million in humanitarian assistance in Fiscal Year 2022 alone – the greatest share of all donor funding to date. Yet, the drought response across the Horn of Africa remains underfunded by the broader international community, and needs only continue to grow. Ultimately, the United States cannot solve this crisis alone, which is why we urgently call on all donors to again step up and provide immediate, generous assistance to help alleviate the suffering of millions of people across the Horn of Africa who face the threat of starvation in this historic drought. 

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