NAIROBI, The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) gtoup has approved a 1.0 million US dollars Emergency Humanitarian Assistance to people affected by drought and famine in Kenya with the targeted beneficiaries of the food distribution being households affected by the drought, mainly widows, orphans, female and elderly-headed households without visible means of survival.

The operation will be funded through a grant from the Bank’s Special Relief Fund (SRF) to purchase food items as well as associated costs of transportation and distribution of food rations to the beneficiaries and for administrative charges. All these food items will be purchased locally by the World Food Programme (WFP).

Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said Tuesday that the drought had worsened in most of the affected Kenyan counties, covering nearly half the country.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has called for assistance to Horn of Africa countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda, and requested support to Drought Response Activities in Kenya to meet the urgent needs of the affected population.

The Kenyan government declared the drought a national disaster on Feb 10 this year following extreme dry spells in pastoral zones since August 2016 which resulted in high local cereal prices, increasing livestock mortality and conflict which have exacerbated the impact of the drought.

Food prices are currently 10 to 25 per cent above their five-year averages and are expected to continue rising. The government says the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has doubled to 2.7 million in February 2017, up from 1.3 million in August 2016.

This is equivalent to 20 per cent and 18 per cent of population in pastoral and marginal areas, respectively. Some 357,285 children and pregnant and lactating mothers are acutely malnourished. Data collected by UNICEF from 10 affected counties indicates that close to 175,000 children are not attending early pre-primary and primary schools, primarily due to the drought’s impact, the government says.