At least 3 million Kenyans face acute food shortage

TURKANA, KENYA - APRIL 29 : Aid sacks and other materials by Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are seen in Turkana, Kenya on April 29, 2017. Turkey's aid agency distributed vital foodstuffs to thousands of starving people in northern Kenya's Turkana region. Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) on Saturday distributed the foodstuffs in Kapus village which is one of the most affected regions by drought. (Photo by Magdalene Mukami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
USAid food aid being unloaded at the Mombasa port. Kenya has received food aid valued at approximately $3.4 million from the United States government. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Millions of Kenyans are currently severely food insecure, a United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report says. According to OCHA, planned assessments in July and August are expected to confirm increased food insecurity, with some estimates projecting over 3.5 million people facing an acute shortage.

Approximately 1.7 million people are projected to be affected in the urban informal settlements because of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“In urban areas, this insecurity is caused by increased food prices, decrease in incomes and loss of jobs,” the report says. The report, published on August 10, 2020, notes that female-headed households, who constitute 30.2 percent of the poor population, are at particularly high risk.

The report says the government and partners have identified 725,000 urban poor in Covid-19 hotspots, including Nairobi, Kwale, Kilifi, Mombasa, and Nakuru earmarked for relief.

“Workers in the informal economy may not be able to stay at home when they are sick without paid sick leave. They lack disposable cash and cannot stock food,” the report reads.

Among the urban poor, an estimated 50 percent of their daily income is spent on food and the pandemic has grossly affected them.

Currently, OCHA supports over 390,000 vulnerable Kenyans with food aid and is currently distributing food in nine counties. “Food distribution is ongoing in Mandera, Wajir, Turkana, Garissa, Tana River, Marsabit, Isiolo, Samburu, and Baringo,” notes the report, even as they decry insufficient funds.