Nairobi — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced it is providing more than $126 million in additional food assistance to Kenya as drought bites in the country.
The announcement comes following a visit to the country by US First Lady Jill Biden.
The funds will be used to meet the urgent needs for approximately 1.3 million people across the country.
"USAID will provide emergency food items such as sorghum, maize, yellow split peas, and vegetable oil for families living in areas where local markets are not functioning," USAID said.
After a fifth failed rainy season in the Horn of Africa, USAID pointed out that cumulative rainfall in Kenya is now less than 70 percent of the 30-year average across most of the country - exacerbating humanitarian needs.
The agency pointed out that communities in the arid and semi-arid land counties of Kenya are experiencing the worst effects of the drought, as farmers are losing crops and millions of livestock, and increasingly scarce resources, such as water, food, and pasture, are driving intercommunal tensions and violence.
USAID stated that in areas where markets are functioning, partners will provide cash-based assistance for families to purchase food staples, which will, in turn, support local economies.
The agency will also support programs to prevent and treat child malnutrition, as more than 970,000 children ages five and younger are acutely malnourished across the country.
"USAID commends the strong partnership of the Government of Kenya and county administrations, and commits to continuing to invest in Kenya's economic recovery and growth," USAID said.
Given the magnitude of the current crisis, USAID noted that more funding will be required to meet expected humanitarian needs through 2023.
USAID pointed out that it provided nearly $310 million in humanitarian assistance in Fiscal Year 2022 alone in responding to the drought in Kenya, - the greatest share of all donor funding to date.
"Yet, the drought response across the Horn of Africa remains underfunded by the broader international community, and needs only continue to grow," they said.
The agency appealed to all donors to step up and provide immediate, generous assistance to help alleviate the suffering of millions of people across the Horn of Africa who face the threat of starvation as result of drought.