Direct Relief has provided $30,000 in cash and $50,000 (wholesale) in medical supplies to respond to the Horn of Africa famine crisis that has affected nearly 1 million people along the northern border of Kenya. Provided primarily through the Kenyan NGO Council (of which Direct Relief’s Regional Medical Adviser in Kenya, Dr. Hezron Mc’Obewa, is a member), the aid supports both food and medical needs for famine sufferers, as identified by the organizations working on the ground in Kenya.
The $30,000 has been allocated to purchase essential food and medical supplies for weekly medical services at major refugee camps in the Turkana and Wajir regions, where the NGO Council, Ministry of Medical Services, Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, Kenya Red Cross, and other agencies are addressing the needs of the displaced. Each settlement has a Medical Outreach Station staffed by Kenya Ministry of Health and Kenya Red Cross medical personnel, who are seeing between 855 and 1,150 people each week, the majority of whom are children. Foodstuffs donated by Direct Relief have been distributed also through 15 feeding centers that have been established.
According to Dr. Mc’Obewa, the needs at each Medical Outreach station are currently not being met and many people are being turned away due to lack of medicines and supplies. Lack of funds to support care for the number of patients is the biggest issue, while bad roads and heavy rainfall make many areas difficult to access.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reports that the total refugee population in Kenya stands at 568,298 and food insecurity is affecting 3.75 million people around the country. An estimated 300,000 children and pregnant or breastfeeding women are currently affected by acute malnutrition, with the majority located in the northwestern and northeastern districts of Turkana and Wajir—the areas where Direct Relief is focusing its efforts. The onset of Kenya’s annual “short rains” and flooding is also increasing the threat of measles, malaria, dysentery, and cholera.
Direct Relief is assembling an additional supply of nutritional products and oral rehydration solutions to the region and will continue to support partners in the region to assist those affected by the famine.