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In Kenya, the people most vulnerable to food insecurity live in urban informal settlements and in the arid and semi-arid regions that make up 80 percent of the country’s land area. A quarter of the population lives in these regions, which suffer from poverty, structural underdevelopment, conflict and disease. Droughts and unpredictable rain patterns exacerbate the situation, and 47 percent of the country’s overall population lives below the poverty line.

In arid and semi-arid counties, people tend to respond to drought-related crop and livestock loss by adopting harmful coping practices, such as selling their only money-earning assets, withdrawing children from school, and undertake income-generating activities that damage the environment.

High levels of malnutrition afflict the country’s poorest people. In the arid and semi-arid areas, around 369,000 children under 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition – with peaks of one in three in the most affected areas – and undernutrition is a leading cause of death among children under 5

Chronic food insecurity combines with limited access to health services, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, and suboptimal care and feeding practices for young children. A quarter of Kenyan children are stunted, or small for their age. This is often irreversible.

The number of people that are acutely food insecure in Kenya has risen to 3.4 million for August 2017 – February 2018, up from 2.6 million for February - July 2017. This deterioration in food security mostly in the arid and semi-arid parts of the country has been the result of poor rainy seasons affecting crop and livestock productivity.

The World Food Programme (WFP) works with the Kenyan government to implement programmes designed to promote greater food security. Reaching around 2.3 million people a year, WFP is gradually shifting from providing in-kind food rations to offering cash-based assistance that enables people to choose their own food while boosting local economies. By helping improve community assets such as irrigation systems, WFP is helping smallholder farmers and pastoralists increase their productivity, resilience to climate shocks and income. Overall, WFP is investing more and more in technical support for government-owned programmes that address food security and nutrition while learning and testing innovative ways of helping the Government achieve the goal of zero hunger.

46 million
47 percent
of people live below the poverty line
children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition

What the World Food Programme is doing in Kenya

  • Country capacity strengthening

    WFP works with the Kenyan government to strengthen its ability to provide its own food security and nutrition assistance programmes, such as activities supporting poor smallholder farmers. As part of this work, WFP supports institutions such as the National Drought Management Authority, working on hazard analysis and early warning to help improve the country’s preparedness and response to emergencies.

  • Asset creation to improve livelihoods

    WFP supports communities in building or repairing assets such as small dams, terraces, water pans, irrigation systems, fodder fields and tree farms. This promotes longer-term resilience by increasing agricultural productivity and allowing communities to grow more food, diversify incomes, keep livestock healthy and protect the environment. WFP’s asset creation activities are a key element of support for the Government’s Ending Drought Emergency Plan.

  • School meals

    WFP has run a school meals programme since 1980, working with Kenya’s Ministry of Education. This provides nutritious meals to 1.5 million children in the most food-insecure districts. Since 2009, the government-led home grown school meals programme has bought food from local farmers, helping support educational achievement at the same time as stimulating the local economy.

  • Food and cash assistance for refugees

    Kenya hosts over 400,000 refugees, the majority living in camps in remote, food-insecure counties where they are unable to work. This makes them highly dependent on international assistance. WFP provides them with food rations, along with electronic cash transfers that enable them to purchase their own choice of food from local markets, boosting the local economy. Young children and pregnant or nursing women also receive specially fortified food.

  • Nutrition

    Using a specialized blend of fortified food infused with micronutrients, WFP treats acute malnutrition among children under 5 and pregnant and nursing women. WFP also runs programmes to prevent malnutrition, providing extra nutrients to young babies and their mothers. In some counties, primary school children receive micronutrient powders, and in one county WFP distributes fresh fruit and vegetables.

  • Improving access to markets

    WFP supports Kenya’s smallholder farmers by helping them acquire the skills and tools they need to grow better-quality produce and more of it, enabling them to compete in formal agricultural markets and make use of group storage facilities. With 75 percent of Kenya’s population cultivating small plots of land, the training WFP provides means farmers are better equipped to expand their production and increase their incomes.

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Partners and donors

Achieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Kenya is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:
  • Council of Governors
    County governments
    Kenya Meteorological Department
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries
    Ministry of Devolution and Planning
    Ministry of East African Community, Labour and Social Protection
    Ministry of Education
    Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Water and Irrigation
    National Disaster Operation Centre
    National Drought Management Authority
    The National Treasury
    UN Women
  • UNDP
    World Bank
  • Action Aid
    Action Against Hunger
    CARE International
    Caritas – Diocese of Kitui
    Cereal Growers Association
  • Consortium for Cooperating Partners
    Don Bosco
    Feed the Children
    Film Aid International
  • International Rescue Committee
    Islamic Relief Worldwide
    Kenya Red Cross Society
    Lutheran World Federation
    Médecins Sans Frontières - Switzerland
  • Norwegian Refugee Council
    Relief Reconstruction and Development Organization
    St. Claire’s of Asisi
    World Vision International
  • Australia
  • European Commission
  • Hungary
  • Luxembourg
    Multilateral donors
    OPEC Fund for International Development
    Republic of Zambia
  • Russian Federation
    Saudi Arabia
    United Kingdom
    United States of America




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