Nutritional emergency in Kenya

Nairobi, September 28, 2000 - During the past three years, the district of Samburu - particularly the Baragoï zone - has been afflicted by a serious drought. Due to the scarcity of water and the loss of grazing land, MSF estimates that in this area populated primarily by herdsmen, 40% of the cattle have died. Given that cattle are the principal economic and alimentary resource in this area, the result is a severe imbalance in the local economy. The population is currently facing a grave food shortage situation. A consequence of this is an increase in cattle rustling which, in turn, has significantly aggravated the already difficult living conditions of local families. At present, the Baragoï population (estimated at 30 000, of which many are displaced) is dependent on the distribution of alimentary aid for survival. An MSF led evaluation in August revealed a 21% rate of malnutrition in the area. Poor weather conditions combined with an insufficient quantity of food being distributed, risk worsening a situation which is already hanging precariously in the balance. During the next three months, MSF will be organising supplementary distributions in order to check a major deterioration in levels of nutrition. On their two sites, children under five (estimated at 5,000) will receive food rations composed of enriched flour and oil (equivalent to 2,500 kilocalories/day/person). Those suffering from the most severe malnutrition will be cared for in a special therapeutic nutritional centre. These activities are in tandem with medical care for the population at large. MSF teams have set up a dispensary which operates during the distributions, and also bring their support to the health centre in Baragoï.