WFP cuts food rations to Kenya’s refugee camps
Food rations by the World Food Programme (WFP) for more than half a million refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma camps will be reduced beginning this November due to lack of resources.
This follows recent calls by the WFP and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for urgent funding in food aid to more than 550,000 refugees in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps in northern Kenya.
“We have done everything possible to avoid this, but it has become necessary to reduce ration sizes by 20 per cent in November and December in order to stretch our existing food stocks to last through the end of the year,” said Ronald Sibanda, WFP’s country director for Kenya.
“We hope this will be a temporary measure as we appeal to donors to come to the assistance of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who rely on WFP to meet their daily food needs.”
Mr Sibanda noted that the agency has taken major strides to improve the efficiency of its assistance programme and ensure that only eligible refugees receive food rations.
While this has resulted in some reduction in the monthly food requirements, WFP needs about US$10 million every month to distribute more than 10,000 metric tons of food to refugees in the two camps in northern Kenya.
While reduced rations will allow food distributions to continue for the 535,000 camp-based refugees through the end of the year, further cuts may be necessary if no additional resources become available, as food stocks will be nearly exhausted by January.
“We believe that the international community understands the importance of continuing this vital food lifeline for the refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma,” said Raouf Mazou, the UNHCR representative for Kenya. “We are concerned that a reduction in rations could have a negative impact on the health and nutrition of refugees who rely on the food assistance.”
WFP’s refugee operation in Kenya has faced severe funding challenges over the last year.
A recently confirmed contribution of $20 million from the United States is expected to be available for distribution of food from the beginning of March 2014, but WFP will require an additional $20 million for January and February to cover a gap in critical food and nutrition assistance to refugees, the majority of whom have no other source of food.
The 20 per cent reduction in ration sizes means that refugees will not receive the World Health Organisation’s minimum recommended energy requirements of 2,100 kilocalories per day and will instead get 1,680 kilocalories.
WFP urges donors to respond to its urgent appeal as quickly as possible in order to meet the nutritional requirements of this vulnerable group.
WFP has been providing food assistance, consisting of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and salt, to thousands of refugees from across the region since the camps in Dadaab and Kakuma were established more than 20 years ago.
Last year the UN agency appealed that it requires about $12 million to feed refugees in the two camps every month.
Dadaab and Kakuma currently house more than 550,000 refugees, which places Kenya among the countries hosting the largest refugee populations in the world.
Source: The East African