by Njoroge Kaburo NAIROBI (Xinhua)
-- The UN relief chief on Saturday urged international support
for the estimated 2.7 million people in parts of Kenya who
urgently need food and water following the onset of a severe
Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in a
statement issued in Nairobi that the world must act now to save
lives in Kenya and Horn of Africa region ravaged by severe
"Famine has reared its ugly head in neighbouring South Sudan,
Somalia is at risk for the second time this decade, and more
than 2.7 million Kenyans are severely food insecure," warned
"Crops are failing, food prices are rising, and families are
"The spectre of hunger and disease is haunting East Africa
"We need to put a stop to this," he added.
O’Brien who visited one of the driest areas in northern Kenya
on Friday said he saw the devastating impact of drought on rural
communities and called for international support for communities
affected by conflict and drought in Kenya and the Horn of
The third consecutive year of drought in the Horn of Africa
is causing thirst and hunger, decimating livestock, destroying
livelihoods, spreading disease and triggering large-scale
Some of the worst-affected communities live along the Mandera
triangle, where the borders of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia meet
in a region that witnessed outbreaks of chikungunya, dengue, AWD/cholera
and measles in 2016.
Half of Kenya’s 47 counties are affected by drought and the
government has declared a national drought emergency.
The food insecure population has more than doubled in less
than a year, and an estimated 350,000 children, pregnant women
and new mothers are acutely malnourished.
Kenya has pledged 99 million U.S. dollars to support national
drought response efforts and committed to enhancing regional
But the scale of the crisis is outpacing existing capacity.
According to the United Nations, more than 2 billion dollars
is required for humanitarian assistance in Kenya, Somalia and
Ethiopia in 2017.