By Ejidiah Wangui NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s Antonia Lelokong, a 28-year-old widow,
bears the scorching sun in a small village in northern Kenya as
she waited for her turn in the queue to receive her food ration.
The mother of two
has since February been relying on these food rations to feed
her young family as the region has been listed among the worst
drought-hit in the East African country.
Lelokong is among
thousands of women and children who have been put on relief
assistance in the region as Kenya experienced two consecutive
seasons of failed rains in 2016.
“Were it not for the
relief assistance, my children would have starved to death. I
lost my husband a few months ago so I don’t have anyone to
depend on,” said Lelokong with her two children in tow and an
infant strapped on her back.
raised by ChildFund Kenya, an international child development
organization, Lelokong is assured of having something to feed
her children on daily.
ChildFund Kenya has
so far raised more than 1.3 million U.S. dollars in its efforts
to provide relief assistance to distressed children and mothers
in Kenya especially in the northern region.
According to Anne
Goddard, ChildFund International president, even though the
organization is yet to meet its target of raising 2.3 million
dollars to help the hunger-stricken regions, the amount raised
so far has helped put 88,000 women and children in various
regions on relief assistance.
is needed so we can fully implement the emergency response and
mitigate risks of a worsening drought situation in some parts of
the country,” said Goddard.
ChildFund has distributed over 3,734 tonnes of food items
including unimix flour, corn soya blend, plumpy sups, maize,
beans, rice, cooking oil and salt in different regions.
In Samburu County,
home of Kenya’s nomadic pastoralists, ChildFund has distributed
over 49 tonness of food items to 3,298 people, including 2,155
children in 79 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers and
1,143 pregnant and lactating women.
But even as such
organizations continue with their efforts to rescue starving
Kenyans, the number of those in need of relief assistance
continues to grow by the day.
Harold Kimenchu for
instance, lost his 78-year-old mother recently and the final
diagnosis from her physician was starvation.
His worry now is who
the hunger will claim next in his family as he can barely afford
a meal a day to feed his family of eight.
“I’m a mason and my
income is barely enough to feed the family, my wife has been
helping but now due to the ongoing drought, there are no jobs in
the farms where she used to work,” he explained to Xinhua.
His two-acre piece
of land sparks no hope for the 48-year-old father as all the
crops he planted around March have dried up.
“We have no hopes of
harvesting anything from our farms as all we planted has dried
up, the situation has been worsened by the fact that last year
we didn’t manage to get any harvests from our farms either,”
Nairobi has not eluded the hunger situation either. Thousands of
residents living in the city’s informal settlements are among
those listed as in dire need of relief assistance.
According to a
recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),
the number of Kenyans in dire need of food stands at 3.5
million, up from the 2.7 million forecast in March.
The number of
children under the age of five facing Severe Acute Malnutrition
(SAM) is estimated at 104,614.
If projections by
the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) are anything to
go by, there could be an upsurge in Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM)
especially in regions classified as Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL)
To avert the crisis,
the NDMA recommends scaling up of supplementary feeding in worst
hit areas as well as the provision of water and health services
to curb breakouts of diseases such as cholera.