Thousands of Kenyan children face droughtinduced hunger UNICEF warns

Drought continues to afflict thousands of Kenya’s children, leaving more than 20,000 malnourished or at serious risk of malnutrition while the risk of polio has risen sharply in drought-affected districts bordering Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, according to the latest update by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).In some area the situation is compounded by inter-tribal fighting.“Parts of Kenya remain critically food insecure and in need of relief assistance until at least February 2006 when the next harvest should become available,” UNICEF said, noting that the Government and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) have extended emergency operations for 1.2 million people, including 200,000 school children through the expanded school feeding programme.A total of $4 million is needed for 2005-06 to provide targeted feeding for malnourished and vulnerable children and to support vitamin A supplementation, integrated immunization campaigns and the provision of a basic health package. The sum would also cover repair and rehabilitation of critical water sources to provide the minimum quantities of water needed for human consumption.Of the more than $11.5 million sought overall in 2004-05 less than $3.75 million was in hand.UNICEF noted that the drought coincided with rising inter-tribal and inter-clan violence this year which has resulted in child deaths, injuries and displacement, including a massacre in Marsabit in July that left some 100 people dead, over 20 of them children killed at their primary boarding school, and hundreds more injured and displaced.Since December, some 20,000 people have been displaced by violence in Mandera district.“Given the low enrolment rates of children in schools and the extreme gender disparities in some areas, the need for psychosocial support and life skills support for children affected by drought and violence cannot be overemphasized,” the agency said. read more