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WFP: Lack of funds threatens supply of relief food in E. Africa

Friday January 5 2018

WFP food aid

Internally displaced people line up to receive food aid from WFP at one of the camps in Mogadishu. The UN agency says shortage of funds threatens to jeopardise its operations in East Africa. PHOTO | MOHAMED DAHIR | AFP 

NYABOGA KIAGE
By NYABOGA KIAGE
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Shortage of funds threatens to jeopardise the World Food Programme (WFP) operations in East Africa, the UN agency has said.

And, if it does not get more money by March, refugees in the region will see a drop in their compensation this year.

The main cause of the crisis, according to the UN, is the fact that it is becoming expensive for donor countries to satisfy the huge number of hungry people.

“Demand keeps on increasing on a daily basis making it hard for donor countries to satisfy,” Mr Peter Smerdon, WFP spokesperson for East Africa, told the Nation by phone Thursday.

MALNUTRITION

In Kenya this year, the agency is targeting to reach 780,000 women and children suffering from malnutrition in drought-hit areas but this is being hindered by lack of enough funds.

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Out of the Sh5.3 billion it needs for the next six months, the UN agency said it only had half the amount that it requires.

Mr Smerdon said that if they don’t get more funds channelled into the project, they will have to cut funds meant for other projects in other countries.

“We usually sit down and decide which project wants more attention than the other. We then fund the most serious ones,” he said.

He gave an example of where WFP was forced to reduce food rations to 420,000 refugees in northern Kenya camps by 30 per cent.

“In addition in Kenya, WFP, due to insufficient funding, in November 2017 cut food rations by 30 per cent for 420,000 refugees living in Dadaab and Kakuma camps. The cuts are still in place,” he said.

BELOW POVERTY LINE

In a 2017 report released by WFP, 47 percent of people living in the country live below the poverty line.

It also said that there are 369,000 children under the age of five who suffer from acute malnutrition.

He said successive droughts have affected the Horn of Africa since March 2016.

The UN agency said that there are 3.4 million Kenyans who lack food.

Ethiopia has 8.5 million people who lack food, making it the country with the largest number of hungry people in East Africa. Somalia has 3.1 million citizens affected.

In Somalia, the UN agency was forced to suspend food aid for 500,000 people in December last year.

In 2018, WFP estimates that 1.5 million people will experience a shortage on food aid in the country.

It also said that the terrorist group Al-Shabaab was a major contributor because militants were blocking people from accessing food.

“The more we experience conflicts, the more it is difficult for people to access food. War also increases demand,” Mr Smerdon said.