Kenya has one of the largest economies in East and Central Africa, and a strong agricultural sector. However, the unequal distribution of wealth has left half of the country’s population living below the poverty line. Struggling Kenyans face daunting health challenges such as malnutrition, malaria, and waterborne diseases—all preventable illnesses that the nation’s public health system is ill-equipped to handle. To assist these vulnerable populations, Action Against Hunger has been implementing programs in nutrition, food security, and water, sanitation, and hygiene in Kenya since 2002.
The dire public health situation for so many Kenyans was made worse in 2011 when deadly droughts and food shortages endangered the lives and livelihoods of nearly four million people. Our teams raced to respond to the escalating food crisis in Kenya and across the Horn of Africa. We treated 24,000 people suffering from acute malnutrition and helped 40,000 people access clean water and proper hygiene tools. In addition to emergency response, we implemented programs that provided self-sufficiency and food security for more than 86,000 Kenyans.
Droughts are not the only natural disaster to hit Kenya recently. In 2013, continuous heavy rains through the usually arid area of Tana River County left 82,000 people without homes, farmland, livestock, and access to clean water. In response, we worked with local government agencies and the Kenyan Red Cross to bring emergency sanitation supplies to affected communities. When the flood waters receded, we resumed work on long-term water and sanitation projects that aim to provide clean water for 32,000 people in Tana River County by 2014.
Although the most recent food crisis is now less critical and the latest round of natural disasters have lessened, affected populations still need help. The country’s long-term health goals include helping these communities recover by scaling up nutritional support for at-risk families, increasing access to nutritionally fortified crops, and building government capacity to treat malnutrition. We will continue to help Kenya fight deadly hunger through our integrated nutrition, food security, and water programs.