Children at risk of malnutrition in Kenyan drought

by Plan UK | Plan UK
Thursday, 20 February 2014 16:25 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Children are at an increased risk of malnutrition – with some dropping out of school - as drought fears grow in Kenya, reports children’s charity Plan International.

The rainy season was shorter than usual last year resulting in a fall in agricultural production in parts of the country. In some areas there was no production at all, according to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).

Water points are becoming more difficult to access with distances to the nearest sources increasing.

Family food stocks are also depleted with food prices currently higher than average.

“To cope with the situation, families are skipping meals and reducing portion sizes,” says Carol Sherman, Plan’s Country Director in Kenya.

“According to NDMA reports, children are not getting sufficient food, leading to increased malnutrition risks.

“Reports suggest some parents are withdrawing their children from school to engage in casual labour to supplement income, while others are just dropping out due to hunger,” she adds.

Last year, the short rainy season came late and water was unevenly distributed. This meant there was insufficient moisture for crop growth, germination and to top up existing water sources.

Plan has visited schools in its programme areas, including Kilifi, Kwale, Tharaka and Machakos, to investigate the causes and impact of the pupil absences.

It has also taken part in an assessment carried out in early February to look at the impact of the short rains. This was led by the Food & Agricultural Organisation, the World Food Programme and the Kenyan government.

In 2011 millions of people in the horn of Africa, including Kenya, were affected by a food crisis which had been prompted by the worst drought in 60 years.

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