The growing food crisis in Kenya has prompted agencies to form a working group to coordinate and identify opportunities for communicating with affected communities.
The Government of Kenya declared the drought a national disaster in February. Widespread crop failures and loss of fodder have affected farming and agro-pastoral communities especially in the Northwest, north-eastern and the coastal strip of Kenya and more than 16,000 malnourished children have been identified in Nairobi’s costal towns. The crisis has resulted in incidents of conflict between communities. Kenya is one of the countries stretching from northern Nigeria through to Somali and Yemen where an estimated 20 million people are at risk.
A ‘Foundation Training’ on communicating with communities conducted by the CDAC Network as part of funding under the UK’s Disasters and Emergency Preparedness Programme in December 2016, worked with 21 humanitarian workers and acted as a driver to establishing the working group. The working group, which includes 25 international and national agencies, identified a number of responses and areas where communicating with communities could be more integrated or where there were opportunities for combined action.
The following agencies shared their specific response to the ongoing drought crisis Kenya:
a. The United Nations and humanitarian partners have launched a Flash Appeal (on 16th March) for US$166 million to address the devastating consequences of drought on pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in northern Kenya. Lead by UNOCHA, the appeal will complement the Government of Kenya’s ongoing nine-month response plan (November 2016 – July 2017), which currently faces a funding gap of US$108 million. The Government has allocated US$100 million against the overall estimated requirement of US$208 million.
b. IOM is currently supporting the UNOCHA led interagency Flash Appeal, with specific focus on shelter and early recovery.
c. BBC Media Action is seeking to partner with UNICEF, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and County Steering Committees (CSGs) to launch the campaign “Every Drop Counts”. This campaign seeks to create and disseminate radio messages to complement distribution of water and food supplements to affected communities in the county of Samburu (activities in Baringo were halted owing to the increase of insecurity). Additionally, the agency has rolled out the Lifeline programme that is providing mobile solar powered radios to migrating pastoralist communities in the affected counties, to ensure continuous access to early warning and drought response messages as part of mobilization and tracking of migration populations, as well as mapping of ‘media dark’ areas.
d. Transparency International is successfully monitoring community feedback through its innovative platform “Uwajibikaji Pamoja”. Notably, the agency has been able to engage communities in West Pokot, Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit. Additionally, the agency is also running bulk SMS services in these affected counties to facilitate message dissemination (early warnings and outreach activities) for community mobilization and feedback.
e. HelpAge International is concentrating its efforts in conducting community assessments to provide accurate statistics that will influence ongoing drought response initiatives. Additionally, the agency is also running cash transfer programmes in the affected counties targeting the most affected vulnerable groups (older persons).
f. SOS Children’s Village is focusing on provision of water and sanitation, as well as food distribution to schools and affected communities in Marsabit County. This has been achieved through collaboration with the County Steering Committee.
g. World Vision has launched drought and famine response appeals for Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan. Additionally, in Kenya, the agency is focusing its drought response in the provision of food and safety nets, livestock and agriculture, water, education, health and nutrition, peace and security and response coordination.