Hunger in East Africa Order of Malta - Permanent Observer Mission

27/09/2011

Hunger in East Africa

Malteser International intensifies relief; 73,000 to receive food, medication

Cologne/Nairobi. Another 30,000 residents of the region of Isiolo, in north-eastern Kenya, will receive a basic supply of food and medication for at least four months from Malteser International, the relief service of the Order of Malta for worldwide humanitarian aid. As food distributions continue in the Marsabit region, the organisation is now broadening its relief activities in Kenya, bringing aid to 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, will each receive a monthly ration of 5,6 kilograms of Unimix – a flour enriched with life-saving vitamins and nutrients – as well as 560 ml of cooking oil. Malteser International will also supply their family members – another 25,000 people – with monthly rations of 3 kilograms of maize, 1.5 kilograms of beans, 400ml of cooking oil and 60g 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 will teach around 480 mothers in the villages how to properly care for malnourished children, showing them how they can avoid malnutrition even with very little food available – and thus avoid all of the 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 receive 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 undernourishment. The World Food Programme is planning to provide the region’s children below the age of three with staple foods over the coming months. “But many children over three years old are already undernourished or are very hungry – so are the elderly and sick residents. They also need help before they become gravely ill”, Kirch says.

In the neighbouring region of Marsabit, Malteser International has provided staple foods and medicines to about 43,000 people since early August. The organisation is planning a long-term intervention in the region in order to promote sustainable livelihood practices and prepare the local population for future droughts.

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