Investing In Natural Calamities Resistant Techniques to Enhance Food Security in Kenya

Natural calamities ranging from disease outbreaks, and flooding to droughts have been major setbacks to Kenya’s food security. According to the UN, Kenya continues to face the effects of recurrent climate shocks and disease outbreaks which generate widespread displacement and humanitarian needs. Noticeably, above average October to December 2023 short rains induced by El-Nino and Indian Ocean Dipole conditions both associated floods across Kenya resulted in at least 174 deaths and the displacement of approximately 546,000 people between early October and December 2023.

According to the Government of Kenya Ministry of Health, flood-displaced populations urgently need emergency relief commodities and food, shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance.

As such, the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA) has developed an initiative to invest in natural calamities-resistant techniques to enhance food security in Kenya. This comes as a blessing in disguise as reports by the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) and (FRC) show that despite the flood damage, including the destruction of approximately 18,400 acres of farmland, elevated rainfall after the prolonged drought increased agricultural labor opportunities and production activities, raising incomes for near average levels.

One of the techniques applied by USAID/ BHA in enhancing food security in Kenya is by conducting drought response activities in 15 arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) counties supporting the most vulnerable populations with Agriculture, cash, food, livelihood, nutrition, and wash instructions.  This also includes partnering with the Red Cross Society to provide sanitation and shelter huts consisting of sleeping mats, soaps, and thermal blankets to flood-displaced persons in Garissa, Lamu, and Tana River counties.

Besides that, through the USAID/BHA, the UN World Food Program (WFP) provides emergency cash transfers and in-kind food assistance to drought-affected and food-insecure communities. Additionally, climatic adaptive programming focused on reducing food and livelihood loss in the wake of climatic shocks is among the techniques employed by the World Food Program in partnership with the USAID/ BHA.

Finally, Nawiri is an eight-year-old development and food security program championed by the USAID/BHA in four counties experiencing chronic malnutrition and the adverse effects of drought.

This program is aimed at enhancing livestock disease surveillance systems and systems for potable water and agricultural schemes to increase productivity especially. The program also facilitates the monitoring and treatment of waste, investing in livestock feed for pastoralist households, provision of cash-based transfers to food insecure populations, and supporting health care services for households.  Communities are also strengthened by monitoring support regarding village savings and loan associations empowering their capacity to withstand climatic shocks and enable livelihood diversification.

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