The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is further cutting food rations for 440,000 refugees in Kenya, due to severe funding shortfalls, and has warned it may be forced to halt assistance altogether by the end of the year if new resources are not available imminently.
With effect from October, refugees will have to make do with only 52 percent of a full ration. This reduction will only enable WFP to stretch the remaining food and cash until December 2021, after which food assistance to all refugees will stop completely if further funds are not received. WFP has not been able to provide a full ration, which is the minimum daily requirement for a person, to refugees since 2018, and in October 2020 was forced to cut rations from 80 to 60 percent.
“Cutting food assistance to already highly vulnerable families is a heart-breaking decision to have to make – more so with a national drought emergency declared by the government recently. Low funding levels have left WFP no choice – this is the absolute last resort,” said WFP Kenya Country Director Lauren Landis.
WFP is urgently seeking US$ 40.4 million to restore full food rations to refugees in Dadaab, Kakuma, and Kalobeyei settlements over the next six months. Of this, US$ 23.9 million would go directly to the refugees in the form of cash transfers; US$ 14.3 million would be spent on food predominantly purchased in Kenya; US$ 1.2 million would provide children under 5 and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers with specialized foods for the treatment and prevention of malnutrition, and US$ 1million would feed school children across the camps.
In addition to providing food assistance, WFP works with the Kenyan government and other partners to provide self-reliance opportunities for refugees such as establishing kitchen gardens to grow fresh foods to either supplement rations or sell to generate income. With the right tools, refugees improve their own lives, and in the process, contribute to local economies. The prevailing drought means these support mechanisms are at risk of failing, leaving refugees more dependent than ever on food distributions and increased numbers at risk of malnutrition.
“WFP appreciates that presently, there are extraordinary needs around the world, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and conflicts,” added Ms. Landis. “However, refugees in Kenya are in immediate need of assistance and stability even as Kenya and the international community continue to engage in exploring sustainable solutions for this population.”
While urging donors to step up and make new contributions, WFP would like to acknowledge its partners that have stood with the refugees including Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) outlines a commitment of the international community to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the refugees to ease the burden on Kenya. Additional support is needed to support the host government and its goodwill and to not undermine developmental gains. WFP is counting on the continued generosity of donors to provide resources needed for adequate and uninterrupted food and nutrition assistance to the refugees.