In Kenya, the people most vulnerable to food insecurity live in urban informal settlements and in the arid and semi-arid regions that make up 80 percent of the country’s land area. A quarter of the population lives in these regions, which suffer from poverty, structural underdevelopment, conflict and disease. Droughts and unpredictable rain patterns exacerbate the situation, and 47 percent of the country’s overall population lives below the poverty line.
In arid and semi-arid counties, people tend to respond to drought-related crop and livestock loss by adopting harmful coping practices, such as selling their only money-earning assets, withdrawing children from school, and undertake income-generating activities that damage the environment.
High levels of malnutrition afflict the country’s poorest people. Around 337,500 children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition – with peaks of one in three in the most affected areas – and undernutrition is a leading cause of death among children under five.
Chronic food insecurity combines with limited access to health services, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, and suboptimal care and feeding practices for young children. A quarter of Kenyan children are stunted, or small for their age. This is often irreversible.
The number of people that are acutely food insecure in Kenya has risen to 2.6 million, up from 1.3 million as of September 2016. This deterioration in food security mostly in the arid and semi-arid parts of the country has been the result of poor rainy seasons affecting crop and livestock productivity.
The World Food Programme (WFP) works with the Kenyan government to implement programmes designed to promote greater food security. Reaching around 2.3 million people a year, WFP is gradually shifting from providing in-kind food rations to offering cash-based assistance that enables people to choose their own food while boosting local economies. By helping improve community assets such as irrigation systems, WFP is helping smallholder farmers and pastoralists increase their productivity, resilience to climate shocks and income. Overall, WFP is investing more and more on technical support for government-owned programmes that address food security and nutrition while learning and testing innovative ways of helping the Government achieve the goal of zero hunger.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Kenya
Country capacity strengthening
WFP works with the Kenyan government to strengthen its ability to provide its own food security and nutrition assistance programmes, such as activities supporting poor smallholder farmers. As part of this work, WFP supports institutions such as the National Drought Management Authority, working on hazard analysis and early warning to help improve the country’s preparedness and response to emergencies.
Asset creation to improve livelihoods
WFP supports communities in building or repairing assets such as small dams, terraces, water pans, irrigation systems, fodder fields and tree farms. This promotes longer-term resilience by increasing agricultural productivity and allowing communities to grow more food, diversify incomes, keep livestock healthy and protect the environment. WFP’s asset creation activities are a key element of support for the Government’s Ending Drought Emergency Plan.
WFP has run a school meals programme since 1980, working with Kenya’s Ministry of Education. This provides nutritious meals to 1.5 million children in the most food-insecure districts. Since 2009, the government-led home grown school meals programme has bought food from local farmers, helping support educational achievement at the same time as stimulating the local economy.
Food and cash assistance for refugees
Kenya hosts over 400,000 refugees, the majority living in camps in remote, food-insecure counties where they are unable to work. This makes them highly dependent on international assistance. WFP provides them with food rations, along with electronic cash transfers that enable them to purchase their own choice of food from local markets, boosting the local economy. Young children and pregnant or nursing women also receive specially fortified food.
Using a specialized blend of fortified food infused with micronutrients, WFP treats acute malnutrition among children under 5 and pregnant and nursing women. WFP also runs programmes to prevent malnutrition, providing extra nutrients to young babies and their mothers. In some counties, primary school children receive micronutrient powders, and in one county WFP distributes fresh fruit and vegetables.
Improving access to markets
WFP supports Kenya’s smallholder farmers by helping them acquire the skills and tools they need to grow better-quality produce and more of it, enabling them to compete in formal agricultural markets and make use of group storage facilities. With 75 percent of Kenya’s population cultivating small plots of land, the training WFP provides means farmers are better equipped to expand their production and increase their incomes.
Partners and donorsAchieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Kenya is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:
- Council of GovernorsIFADFAOCounty governmentsKenya Meteorological Department
- Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and FisheriesMinistry of Devolution and PlanningMinistry of East African Community, Labour and Social ProtectionMinistry of EducationMinistry of Health
- Ministry of Water and IrrigationNational Disaster Operation CentreNational Drought Management AuthorityThe National TreasuryUN Women
- UNDPUNHCRUNICEFUNOCHAWorld Bank
- Action AidAction Against HungerCARE InternationalCaritas – Diocese of KituiCereal Growers Association
- Consortium for Cooperating PartnersDon BoscoENVIUFeed the ChildrenFilm Aid International
- German Agro ActionInternational Rescue CommitteeIslamic Relief WorldwideKenya Red Cross SocietyLutheran World Federation
- Médecins Sans Frontières - SwitzerlandNorwegian Refugee CouncilRelief Reconstruction and Development OrganizationSt. Claire’s of AsisiWorld Vision International
- European CommissionFinlandFranceGermanyGreece
- LuxembourgMultilateral donorsNorwayOPEC Fund for International DevelopmentRepublic of Zambia
- Russian FederationSaudi ArabiaSpainSwedenSwitzerland
- UN CERFUnited KingdomUnited States of America