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Cablegate: Usaid/Ofda and Usaid/Ffp Marsabit, Isiolo, And

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNR #2245/01 3010527
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280527Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1407
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0643
RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 5331
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 0220
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3377
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7587
RUEHSUN/USMISSION USUN ROME IT
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4690

UNCLAS NAIROBI 002245

AIDAC

USAID/DCHA JBRAUSE
DCHA/OFDA FOR CCHAN; ACONVERY; KCHANNELL; MBEERS;
APIYAKA DCHA/FFP JBORNS; JDWORKEN; SANTHONY; CMUTAMBA;
DNELSON;
USAID/AFR/EA JESCALONA

USUN FOR DMERCADO
ROME FOR HSPANOS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
BRUSSELS FOR USEU JADDLETON; PBROWN
NSC FOR CPRATT

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL PREF KE
SUBJECT: USAID/OFDA and USAID/FFP Marsabit, Isiolo, and
Laikipia Districts Drought Assessment

REF: A) NAIROBI 2133
B) NAIROBI 2067

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) From October 5 to 10, USAID's Offices of U.S.
Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) and Food for
Peace (USAID/FFP) staff visited Laikipia District, Rift
Valley Province, and Isiolo and Marsabit districts,
Eastern Province, to assess reports of food insecurity
associated with poor performance of the 2009 long
rains. According to local Government of Kenya (GoK)
officials and district steering groups (DSGs),
humanitarian conditions in the three districts are
currently worse than during the 2000-2004 drought due
to consecutive seasons of below-average rains and
limited crop and livestock recovery. While observing
relatively stable health conditions in the three
districts, USAID/OFDA staff noted concerns regarding
deteriorating livestock conditions and adoption of
negative coping mechanisms among the population. In
addition, USAID/FFP staff noted concerns regarding the
capacity of UN World Food Program (WFP) implementing
agency the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) to
effectively conduct general food distributions (GFDs)
in Marsabit District. USAID/FFP fully supports WFP
plans to conduct an independent review of implementing
partners to institute a more objective partner
selection process in the future. End summary.

-----------------------------
IMPACT OF THE 2009 LONG RAINS
-----------------------------

2. (U) According to the Kenya Food Security Steering
Group (KFSSG), the March to June portion of the 2009
long rains performed poorly in most areas of the
country, with four of the eight provinces experiencing
less than 40 percent of average rainfall for the
season. As a result of poor rains, KFSSG reports near-
total crop failure and significant declines in
livestock health in affected areas, negatively
impacting the livelihoods of both pastoral and
agricultural populations.

3. (U) Pastoralists constitute approximately 90 percent
of the population in Laikipia, Isiolo, and Marsabit
districts, with households engaged in agriculture
representing the remaining 10 percent of the
population. In northern pastoral areas, populations
remain highly vulnerable to food insecurity, as
successive seasons of insufficient rainfall have
depleted resource bases and undermined traditional
coping mechanisms. As a result of increased food
insecurity, USAID/OFDA staff noted reports of
populations engaged in negative coping mechanisms,
including charcoal collection, pastoral to urban
migration, and decreased meal consumption. Ongoing
drought has also continued to contribute to increased
inter-ethnic and resource-based conflict, particularly
in Isiolo District, as well as migration to wildlife
conservation lands (Ref A). Despite observing several
signs of distressed coping mechanisms, USAID/OFDA staff
note that the ongoing GoK and WFP school feeding

program has mitigated significant school dropout rates,
with the districts visited reporting an overall
increase in school enrollment in recent months.

4. (U) In Isiolo District, local GoK officials report
that successive crop failure and poor long rains have
resulted in a significantly below average harvest,
threatening food security among agricultural
populations. According to the Isiolo District
agriculture officer, the majority of irrigated land in
the district remains empty, as the Uasin Gishu River
currently lacks water. However, USAID/OFDA staff
observed limited cropping under drip irrigation and
ongoing preparations for planting during the October to
December short rains.

----------------------------------
DETERIORATING LIVESTOCK CONDITIONS
----------------------------------

5. (U) Ongoing drought conditions and limited water and
pasture availability have resulted in increased
livestock deaths and disease and extended livestock
migration patterns in most pastoral areas. According
to GoK officials, between 40 and 70 percent of
livestock in Laikipia, Isiolo, and Marsabit districts
have died due to lack of pasture and associated
nutritional deficiencies, as well as disease. As herd
sizes diminish, relief agencies note reports of
increasing cattle theft to replenish depleted
livestock, particularly in Isiolo and Samburu districts
(Ref A). According to FEWS NET, cattle raids in the
two districts during September killed an estimated 10
pastoralists and led to the seizure of more than 1,000
livestock.

6. (U) Drought-affected pastoralists have moved the
majority of remaining cattle long distances in search
of water and pasture, resulting in declining livestock
health and increased resource-related competition.
According to FEWS NET, deteriorating livestock body
conditions associated with increased trekking distances
have negatively affected the purchasing power of
pastoralists. In October, FEWS NET reported cattle and
goat prices approximately 40 percent below average in
pastoralist areas, with cereal prices remaining more
than 100 percent above average. In response, the GoK
is operating a small-scale destocking program to buy
cattle at above-market prices and distribute meat to
the local population. The GoK has also provided
immunizations, medications, and fodder in affected
districts.

-----------------------------------------
HEALTH AND WATER, SANITATION, AND HYGIENE
-----------------------------------------

7. (U) Successive seasons of poor rains have resulted
in significant water shortages in drought-affected
areas of Kenya. In Isiolo and Laikipia districts, the
GoK reports that the majority of boreholes, dams, and
wells have dried up, necessitating GoK water tankering
and rationing activities. In the North Horr area of
Marsabit District, USAID/OFDA observed sufficient water
availability due in part to ongoing USAID/OFDA-funded
partner Food for the Hungry (FH) initiatives. However,

USAID/OFDA and USAID/FFP staff noted limited pasture
availability in area due to significant livestock
migration from drought-affected areas to North Horr in
search of water. FH food-for-work activities in North
Horr work to mitigate the impact of reduced rains
through the construction of water canals.

8. (U) Poor access to water and limited sanitation
facilities have also contributed to increased incidence
of waterborne diseases in drought-affected areas.
Despite reports of increased cholera and acute watery
diarrhea (AWD) cases in Isiolo District in recent
months, district health officials note that the number
of cases remains within seasonal averages. As of mid-
October, health facilities in the district maintained
an overall low volume of activity, with no reported
active cholera or AWD cases. However, health personnel
noted limited staff availability to respond to
potential disease outbreaks. As the current rainy
season progresses, relief agencies have expressed
concerns regarding increased incidence of waterborne
diseases associated with heavy rainfall.

---------
NUTRITION
---------

9. (U) Recent nutritional surveys indicate critical
nutrition conditions throughout Kenya, including in
areas not previously experiencing significant global
acute malnutrition (GAM) rates. Preliminary results
from a World Vision nutrition survey conducted between
May and June in southern Marsabit District revealed GAM
rates of between 20 and 30 percent among children,
significantly above the emergency threshold of 15
percent. In the districts visited, however, USAID/OFDA
staff noted an effective malnutrition response, with
adequate supplemental and therapeutic feeding supplies
available and ongoing outreach and supplemental feeding
activities occurring in even the most remote areas.
Based on observations and random measurement of
children, USAID/OFDA staff noted that the population in
the districts appeared relatively healthy, most likely
due to ongoing nutrition interventions.

---------------
Food Assistance
---------------

10. (U) In Laikipia, Isiolo, and Marsabit districts,
USAID/FFP partner WFP conducts GFDs through lead
agencies Caritas Nyeri, ActionAid, and KRCS,
respectively. WFP-supported GFDs target approximately
68,000 people--or 16 percent of the population--in
Laikipia District, 43,000 individuals--or 34 percent of
the population--in Isiolo District, and 80,000 others--
or 60 percent of the population--in Marsabit District,
with increases in beneficiary caseloads expected during
October distributions. Households in the districts
consistently report sharing rations, particularly among
pastoralist populations, due to deteriorating food
security among the population.

11. (SBU) Upholding previous concerns (Ref B), WFP
notes that KRCS has demonstrated poor capacity in
implementing GFDs in Marsabit District. For instance,

WFP staff recently noted that KRCS had employed only
one food monitor for 12 simultaneous food
distributions, with no means of transport. Reports
have also indicated that food transport contracts have
benefited politically-connected individuals, as well as
particular ethnic groups. While the situation in
Marsabit has improved recently compared to early 2009,
KRCS/Nairobi still appears to be providing relatively
little support to the field.

12. (SBU) However, WFP reports no effective way to
immediately rectify the situation, as DSGs currently
select lead agencies for WFP distributions and have
demonstrated substantial support for KRCS. Observers
note that KRCS exerted significant effort to be
selected as the lead agency for GFDs throughout the
country, including by influencing DSGs and politicians
through the provision of incentives, such as hiring
recommended staff and providing services in particular
areas. (Note: Serving as a lead agency for a WFP GFD,
particularly in Marsabit--geographically Kenya's second
largest district--provides organizations, such as KRCS,
with a significant amount of WFP financial support,
including food transport costs and funding for vehicles
and field staff. End Note.)

13. (SBU) Given the consistent allegations against
KRCS countrywide and confirmed poor implementation
capacity in the field, WFP plans to conduct an
independent performance review of partners by December,
including financial management, with a view toward
instituting a more objective partner selection process
starting in April. USAID/FFP fully supports this
process and will review the draft terms of reference in
the coming days.

----------
CONCLUSION
----------

14. (U) Although relief agencies expect enhanced
October to December short rains to replenish water and
pasture in drought-affected areas, current shortages
continue to result in deteriorating food security
conditions among both pastoral and agricultural
populations in Laikipia, Isiolo, and Marsabit
districts. As the short rains progress, FEWS NET
projects slight improvements in food security in
drought-affected areas, following an initial upsurge in
livestock mortality. However, relief agencies caution
that livelihood recovery may take several years due to
the significant rates of animal death and resource
depletion during the recent drought. To mitigate the
effects of future dry seasons, USAID/OFDA notes a need
for enhanced water catchment and storage in drought-
affected areas, as well as continued efforts to
strengthen livelihoods. USAID/OFDA and USAID/FFP staff
will continue to closely monitor conditions in drought-
affected areas and determine appropriate interventions
as the situation evolves.

15. (U) In Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, USAID/OFDA provided
more than USD 24 million in funding to support
nutrition, economic recovery and market systems,
health, agriculture and food security, and water,
sanitation, and hygiene interventions, as well as local

food procurement and distribution in Kenya. Of the
total, USAID/OFDA provided USD 15 million to
implementing partner FH to strengthen livelihood
opportunities, protect and diversify household assets,
and increase agricultural productivity among more than
663,000 vulnerable pastoralists throughout northern and
eastern areas of Kenya, including Marsabit District.
In FY 2009 and to date in FY 2010, USAID/FFP has
provided approximately 180,040 metric tons of P.L. 480
Title II emergency food assistance, valued at nearly
USD 184 million, through WFP for drought-affected and
refugee populations in Kenya.

RANNEBERGER

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