Four back-to-back below average rainy seasons in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) region of Kenya have led to the longest drought in at least 40 years, leaving 4.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance according to the revised Kenya Drought Flash Appeal. This includes 4.1 million people experiencing high acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or worse) between March and June 2022, according to the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) update published in June. At least 1.5 million livestock had already died as a result of the drought by February 2022, according to the Short Rains Assessment, and this figure is expected to increase in the months ahead.
Malnutrition has risen at an alarming rate, with at least 942,000 children under age 5 and about 134,000 pregnant or lactating women in urgent need of treatment in the ASAL region from March to June 2022, including 229,000 severely acutely malnourished children who faced an immediate threat to their life, according to the IPC Acute Malnutrition analysis. Mandera County was of particular concern, with the prevalence of global acute malnutrition at 34.7 per cent in March, more than double the emergency threshold.
Under the Kenya Drought Flash Appeal (revised and extended in May 2022), 72 humanitarian organizations reached at least 598,100 people in the ASAL region with life-saving and life-sustaining assistance from October 2021 to May 2022, including 534,000 in 2022 alone. Between January and May 2022: about 396,252 people were reached with food and livelihood assistance, including agricultural inputs; 36,489 people were assisted through multi-purpose cash transfers; around 76,882 children under age 5 and pregnant and lactating women received nutrition services; at least 423,692 people were assisted to access safe and clean drinking water; and 11,218 children were reached with services to protect their safety, dignity and well-being.
However, by the end of May 2022, only US$114 million out of the $320 million required under the revised Flash Appeal (October 2021-October 2022) had been mobilized, and under-funding was constraining the response. The revision of the Flash Appeal in May provided an opportunity to update the number people targeted for humanitarian assistance (now 2 million) and robustly prioritize the response, including between geographic areas.