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Food relief for drought in Kenya

In November, members of the Church World Service rapid situational assessment team photographed members of the community searching for water in one of the biggest water pans in Haroresa, now completely dry.

December 17, 2021

By Janice Biehn

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In Kenya, two consecutive poor rainy seasons, combined with the pandemic, conflict, pest infestations and disease have added up to a mounting humanitarian crisis. There are more than 2 million people who are severely food insecure in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands regions, prompting President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare a national disaster on September 8, 2021. Nine out of 47 counties are experiencing the worst conditions: Turkana, Mandera, Lamu, Garissa, Wajir, Kwale, Kitui, Isiolo and Tana River. 

PWRDF is responding to this current drought emergency. Using approximately $140,000 from donations to our equity in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, plus 4:1 matching funds from the Government of Canada, we are overseeing a $740,000 food distribution program with implementing partner Church World Service (CWS). CWS will deliver life-saving food assistance in Tana River Sub County with the first distribution happening in January 2022.

Most participants are pastoralists – meaning they raise livestock – with some agro-pastoralists who also grow crops. The 3,000 households (roughly 15,000 people) are among the worst affected in the area. These households include:

  • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • people living with disabilities
  • the elderly
  • children under five
  • those severely affected by drought and with limited livelihood options

CWS will distribute a monthly food basket for four months to families living in Wayu, Mikinduni and Kinakomba wards. Participating households will receive 50 kg of maize flour, 10 kg of beans, 3 litres of cooking oil and 1 kg of salt.

CWS staff have already headed out to the sub county to meet with the stakeholders – county commissioner and staff, UN agencies, local NGOs and community organizations – and form committees. Each of the four key locations will have a 10-member advisory committee made up of local leaders, faith leaders, representatives from community based organizations and selected community volunteers with past experience. The committees will design, implement and monitor the distribution process, along with CWS staff on-the-ground. The committee make-up will ensure that women’s voices are heard in key decision-making platforms.

Between now and the first distribution, CWS will train the committee members on distribution logistics, security, complaints handling and feedback mechanism, Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) and safeguarding as well as Core Humanitarian Standards. CWS and the advisory committees will conduct a planning session before every distribution and a review meeting after every distribution.

CWS will work with UN agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Food Program and other partners to provide collective strategies to improve efficiencies in humanitarian response. CWS is an active participant in the Kenya Humanitarian Partnership Team which is coordinated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Through this forum, various types of responses are discussed on case-by-case basis.

You can support PWRDF Emergency Responses like this one by donating to PWRDF’s Canadian Foodgrains Bank equity at, or through World of Gifts.

– with files from Naba Gurung, PWRDF Humanitarian Relief Coordinator