WASHINGTON, December 20, 2011 – Mothers and children severely affected by the recent drought in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid areas will receive additional emergency nutrition and health services through the government’s health sector program.
Drought in the Horn of Africa has seriously affected 3.7 million people in parts of northern and Eastern Kenya, where hospital admissions of severely malnourished children have nearly tripled this year. Additional funding through the Kenya Health Sector Support Project is expected to benefit 90,000 pregnant and lactating women and nearly 400,000 malnourished children in these areas. The funds will also make drugs and medical supplies more easily available through better planning, financing, and procurement.
“While recent rains and efforts by the government and partners have put an end to the drought, its impacts linger. Food prices remain very high—130% over the five-year average—and the coping mechanisms of poor people are severely eroded and may take a long time to recover.” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “This emergency funding, which complements ongoing work by the government and its partners, is a direct response to malnutrition and vulnerability in the areas worst hit by the drought”.
The additional funding of $56.8 million approved by the World Bank today has been made available to Kenya through the Crisis Response Window recently established as part of the International Development Association (IDA)—the World Bank Group’s fund for the world’s 81 poorest countries—to respond in a timely manner to crises in these countries. It builds on ongoing Bank-funded activities to strengthen Kenya’s health system and on support from development partners, including UN agencies and others.
“Scaling up health and nutrition services for Kenya’s drought-affected populations complements our support for similar efforts in refugee camps in the Horn of Africa,” said G N V Ramana, the project’s Task Team Leader. “It is important to serve refugees as well as local people in areas outside the camps who are also poor, nomadic, and equally vulnerable when drought strikes.”
The Bank support to Kenya is consistent with its overarching objectives in Africa, which include reducing vulnerability and limiting damage from crises, while enhancing governance and public sector capacity so that public funds deliver better education, health and infrastructure for citizens.