As food distributions continue in the Marsabit region in northern Kenya, Malteser International is now broadening its relief activities in the country, bringing aid to another 30,000 residents in the neighbouring region of Isiolo. The villagers will receive a basic supply of food and medication over a period of at least four months. With these additional measures, Malteser International’s help is now reaching a total of 73,000 people.
Around 5,000 Isiolo residents with special needs, such as children, pregnant and lactating women, as well as elderly and sick people, are each provided with a monthly ration of 5.6 kilograms of Unimix – a flour enriched with vitamins and nutrients – as well as 560 ml of cooking oil. Malteser International also supplies their family members – another 25,000 people – with monthly rations of 3 kilograms of maize, 1.5 kilograms of beans, 400 ml of cooking oil and 60 g of salt. “Only then can we be sure that the weakest people are truly getting enough to eat”, says Ute Kirch, emergency relief coordinator for Malteser International. “In the region, it is custom to divide the food among the family members in the household.”
In addition, community health workers are going into the villages and teaching around 480 mothers how to properly care for malnourished children, showing them how they can reduce malnutrition even with very little food available – and thus avoid diseases associated with the lack of proper nutrition. The region’s health centres will receive medicines in order to treat diarrhoea, worm and bacterial infections. 1,000 families will also get mosquito nets.
“Although Isiolo has been hit hard by the drought, the region has received very little help thus far,” Kirch reports. According to estimates by the Kenyan government in July, around 38 per cent of the children in Isiolo were at high risk of malnutrition. The World Food Programme is providing the region’s children below the age of three with basic supplementary food over the coming months. “But many children over three years old are already malnourished or are very hungry – so are the elderly and sick residents. They also need help before they become gravely ill”, Kirch says.
Malteser International is planning a long-term intervention in the region in order to promote sustainable livelihood practices and prepare the local population for future droughts by strengthening their self-help capacities. “The next short rainy season should come in the end of October – but, even if it rains, it will not be enough", Kirch emphasises. “It will take many more months, if not years, until the people and the animals have recovered from the drought.”
Generous contributions received to date by the Canadian Association have gone directly to the Malteser initiatives.