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UNICEF Needs $8m For Kenya Drought-Affected Areas

UNICEF Seeks $8 Million To Help Drought-Affected Areas In Kenya

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today said it was seeking an additional $8 million to bolster its ability to help women and youngsters in drought-affected areas across Kenya, where some 2.3 million people are faced with food shortages.

The East African country is facing a drought emergency as a result of the poor performance of the short rains in 2003 coupled with erratic long rains this year, according to UNICEF. In the affected areas, a combination of inadequate food, little water and poor health services is leaving more and more children malnourished and susceptible to disease.

The UN agency has already allocated almost $1 million to urgently procure supplementary food, vaccines and key health supplies and to support water tankering, buy critical water supplies and ensure continued schooling for young students.

In Turkana, the agency is providing supplementary food for some 5,000 young vulnerable children, but officials warn this could fall short of needs. “While we have started, this is not enough,” said Maniza Zaman, the Chief of UNICEF’s Nutrition Section. “Young children are the worst-hit in any emergency and unless we act quickly we will lose some of them.”

In the worst-affected areas, she added, an estimated 37,000 children are malnourished, and about 520,000 children require measles vaccines and vitamin A.

According to UNICEF’s Country Office Representative, Heimo Laakkonen, the agency dispatched emergency kits to support the health centres and more supplies are expected shortly.

In addition, potable water will be given to the communities and basic education materials to schools to ensure they remain open and serve as a protective environment for children, Mr. Laakkonen added. “We estimate that 1.2 million children may be at risk of dropping out of school due to drought stress,” he said. “At times like this, children often drop out of school because of the water shortages or in order to undertake household chores.”

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