Severe drought and the secondary socioeconomic effects of COVID-19 have affected access to basic needs for children in Kenya. The President of Kenya declared the ongoing severe drought a national disaster on 9 September 2021, with 2.1 million people being food insecure by August 2021. Some 653,000 children aged 6 to 59 months require treatment for acute malnutrition, of which 142,000 are severely malnourished.
UNICEF will support the Government, United Nations and partners in the delivery of life-saving and protective interventions to drought-affected populations, providing essential services to refugees, and cushioning vulnerable families in the urban informal settlements against the socioeconomic effects of COVID-19 through strengthening multi-sectoral linkages and maximizing integrated coverage to meet gaps in the response efforts of the Government and partners.
UNICEF Kenya is requesting US$30.9 million to support critical life-saving and protective interventions for the most vulnerable children in the arid and semi-arid counties (ASAL), refugee camps and urban informal settlements.
142,809 children aged 6-59 months need SAM treatment
1.3 million children and women need primary healthcare
2.1 million people lack access to safe water
559,484 children in need of protection services
1.4 million children in need of access to school
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
The President of Kenya declared the ongoing drought a national disaster on 9 September 2021.9 Over 2.1 million people in the 23 arid and semi-arid (ASAL) counties were food- insecure by August 2021, up from 1.4 million in February 2021 and 739,000 in August 2020. Of these, approximately 1 million are children. By October 2021, the number is projected to reach 2.4 million due to forecasts for a below-normal October-December 2021 rain season.
Twenty ASAL counties are reporting above-average distances to water sources for households and 17 counties for livestock, leading to inter-communal conflict and disease outbreaks. An increase in upper respiratory tract infections and malaria was reported across ASALs by May 2021, and 36 suspected cholera cases were reported in Turkana county and Dadaab Refugee Camps. By August 2021, a total of 625 measles cases were reported in West Pokot and Garissa counties.
By 21 September 2021, Kenya had reported 246,956 COVID-19 cases with 5,008 deaths (case-fatality rate of 2.02 per cent). There is insufficient public information to sustain preventative behaviours, including correct wearing of masks and social distancing. In addition, insufficient access to water due to the drought will constrain consistent hand- washing. Between June 2020 and June 2021, 5,453 (51.1 per cent) of child protection cases were related to neglect and 1,195 cases (10 per cent) to child pregnancy, indicating increased vulnerability for children and adolescents due to COVID-19 and drought. Poverty levels are substantially higher, particularly among urban households, as pandemic control measures continue to hinder economic recovery. Constrained access to essential services in the context of COVID-19 continues, with 360,000 children, adolescents and pregnant or breastfeeding women needing HIV care and treatment. After schools reopened in January 2021 after a 10-month closure related to the pandemic, 53 per cent of learners demonstrated learning loss, with girls in lower grades more impacted than boys.
Malnutrition levels have surpassed the emergency threshold, with global acute malnutrition rates of 15 to 30 per cent in the 8 arid counties due to drought. Nationally, 652,960 children aged 6 to 59 months, of which 465,000 are in ASALs, and 96,480 pregnant or lactating women, require treatment for acute malnutrition. Of these children,142,809 are severely acutely malnourished.
Kenya hosts 525,671 refugees and asylum seekers as of 31 August 2021, of which 227,429 reside in Dadaab and 215,810 in Kakuma refugee camps. On 23 March 2021, the Government of Kenya announced closure of all refugee camps by 30 June 2022, impacting protection of refugees in the COVID-19 context.