Marsabit drought: Red cross appeals for emergency interventions as thousands face starvation

Acute Malnutrition

A woman gives water to her child from a tin at Manguto Village in North Horr, Marsabit County. Humanitarian agencies are now making rallying calls to redouble efforts against acute malnutrition in Marsabit. 

Photo credit: Nicholus Komu | Nation Media Group

The International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Society has appealed for emergency interventions to prevent further starvation-related deaths in Marsabit.

The International Federation Red Cross and Crescent Society (IFRCS) Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain said during his visit to Ileret Ward that urgent scale-up of humanitarian responses was needed in the drought-hard-hit regions.

“We are on a journey to repair the damage done by the ongoing ravaging drought by stepping up humanitarian assistance to the most affected parts of Kenya such as Ileret. We therefore appeal to all development partners to join hands in these life-saving interventions,” Mr Chapagain said.

He termed the situation in Ileret as the worst-case scenario as the ongoing drought continues to ravage the region.

The intense malnutrition escalation has resulted in the loss of lives, congestion of health facilities, and pressure on the few health workers available.

He revealed that more than 53.6 percent of the population of Ileret which translates to over 10,800 persons and 1,483 households were hard hit by malnutrition.

Mr Chapagain called for long-term sustainable development projects to nip further degradation in the bud as the global approach.

On her part Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary-General Dr Asha Mohammed appealed to all partners to adopt community-based approaches to ensure all the beneficiaries fully benefit from the humanitarian assistance.

She further observed that education being the only silver lining for every community there was a need to support school feeding programs to enable children to go to school even in the hard-hit areas.

Assistant County Commissioner Arthur Wanyoike admitted that the malnutrition rates in the Ileret ward were worrying and at least 10 children succumbed to starvation.

A good number of residents lost their livestock which was their only source of livelihood and nutrition to drought thus leaving them vulnerable.

More than 9 children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are currently admitted under stabilisation programmes at Ileret Health Centre.

North Horr sub-county Public Health worker Galgallo Denge explained that a good number of children had been enrolled under malnutrition management programmes by the facility.

He decried the malnutrition caseloads in the area and feared that they would soon run out of plums in case some more supplies were donated by partners.

He also lamented over the understaffing of the health facility in contrast to urgent medical attention required most of the time.

“We’re acutely understaffed and foresee danger should some of our members who plan to leave in the next three months leave,” Mr Denge said.

Ileret Health Centre Beatrice Eyomo also told the guests that malnutrition cases had surged in the recovery over the last three months.

More than 8,452 people and 1,483 households are in dire need of humanitarian assistance in the Ileret sub-county.

Marsabit, which is the hardest hit county by the ongoing drought, has over 275,931 residents and 48,416 living on relief aid.