NAIROBI – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a consignment of fortified vegetable oil worth KES 112.2 million (US$1 million) from the Russian Federation in support of its resilience building activities in the drought-stricken arid counties of Kenya.
This contribution will form part of the in-kind food package that WFP is distributing in this year’s lean season, when farming families typically face hunger. WFP distributes cereals, pulses, and fortified vegetable oil to vulnerable Kenyans while at the same time treating malnutrition in mothers by providing nutritious flour for porridge and peanut-based supplement for children under 5.
“This contribution is very timely for Kenyan families grappling with acute food shortages in a country facing the prospect of a third successive failed rainy season. This year, because of the drought, we are providing support to families in our resilience programme for 10 months, instead of 8,” said Ms. Lauren Landis, WFP’s Kenya Country Director. “At the same time, we are supporting them to adopt new farming practices, nutritious and drought-resistant crops that help them to achieve a more sustainable future. This contribution from the Russian Federation is an important component of that package.”
“Russia is a long-term and strategic partner of WFP and a friend of the Kenyan people,” said the Russian Ambassador to Kenya H.E. Dmitry Maksimychev. “We are pleased that this gift from the Russian people will help contribute to changing the lives of hardworking families by helping them through a difficult time while they work towards lasting solutions to the food security challenges in the arid and semi-arid areas of the country,” he added.
Russia has a long history of supporting WFP in east Africa, having donated Kamaz trucks to support WFP’s logistics operations in 2019 and 2014, as well as strategic contributions to WFP’s work in Kenya.
Attending the ceremony, Mr Micah Powon, PS State Department for Development of the ASAL, said that the number of people that need immediate food assistance in Kenya has risen to 2.5 million following two consecutive poor rainy seasons – the October to December 2020 rains and the March to May 2021 season. “An estimated 368,000 people in some of the worst affected counties are in the ’emergency’ phase of food insecurity (IPC 4), which is one step away from a catastrophe or famine-like conditions,” he said.
“WFP supports the Government of Kenya in many ways,” said PS Powon. “Their resilience-building work is helping to change the lives of some of Kenya’s most vulnerable families. At this time of drought, we also value their ability to engage international support, such as this valued contribution from the Russian Federation.”
“The support from the Russian Federation will help cushion vulnerable families, preventing a further deterioration of their food accessibility and nutritional status,” added Ms. Landis. “This intervention will protect more Kenyans from falling into a food and nutrition crisis in the coming months.”
WFP distributes cash and food to 390,000 people across nine arid counties that are also engaged in resilience building activities through livelihood diversification such as beekeeping, sweet potatoes and tomatoes, improved climate adaptation with the construction of water harvesting structures and strengthened financial inclusion through access to micro-insurance and community savings groups.
The lean season is one of the most trying periods for farming families especially in the marginal areas. It is when most families run out of crop stockpiles and before the arrival of the next season’s harvest. Families are forced to make difficult choices and often resort to negative coping strategies, such as selling their only assets such as livestock and withdrawing children from school to help fend for the family – further hurting their chances for a food secure future.