Partnership targets acute malnutrition in Kenya


This article appeared first in May 2018 on the website of the Global Harvest Initiative, the previous host institution of the GAP Report.

Prolonged drought has triggered a malnutrition crisis that is devastating the population of Turkana County in northwestern Kenya.

Ninety-percent of the population is severely food insecure and nearly 2-in-5 children are suffering from moderate or severe malnutrition. [1]

Child acute malnutrition is especially devastating; it impairs physical and mental development, which can negatively impact a child’s education and future work opportunities.

After 3 years of drought, 90 percent of the population in Turkana County, Kenya, is severely food insecure.  Photo source: Ann Steensland/VT CALS Global

A community in crisis

Turkana is the poorest of Kenya’s 47 counties; 80 percent of the residents live below the poverty line.

The climate is arid to semi-arid and in the dry season, temperatures soar above 100° Fahrenheit (40° Celsius). The growing seasons are short, so the region is predominately pastoral; 71.2 percent of households raise animals, usually goats. [2]

The drought has caused extensive, multi-season crop failures and a steep decline in livestock milk productivity, drastically reducing the community’s primary source of protein and calories. [3]

The lack of food and nutrients is exacerbated by a shortage of safe drinking water, poor infrastructure and insufficient access to health services and nutrition information. [4]

Map source: The Daily Nation (Online)

Building community resilience

In April 2018, a new partnership to reduce acute malnutrition, increase food security and improve access to quality water in Turkana was announced by the Monsanto Fund, a philanthropic arm of Bayer AG, and Africare, the premier Africa-focused NGO working with African people to build sustainable communities.

The Improved Approach to Community-based Nutrition in Turkana (IMPACT) Project is a 5-year, $5 million investment to increase the access and availability of nutrient-rich food, especially for pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children. [5] IMPACT is expected to reach 27,000 children from 7,800 households.

The IMPACT Project takes a multi-pronged approach to helping the community address the current malnutrition emergency and improve food security and health over the long-term. The project activities include:

  • Screening and treating children diagnosed with acute malnutrition.
  • Educating community leaders and mothers on the role of nutrition.
  • Establishing household and communal gardens.
  • Ensuring access to quality water for consumption and cultivation by restoring and constructing water resources.

In the news release announcing the partnership, Al Mitchell, President of the Monsanto Fund said, “Every family should have access to a balanced diet. However, such access becomes difficult when there is limited availability of healthy and nutritious food options.” Robert L. Mallet, President of Africare, added, “We believe that everyone needs to be at the table…NGOs and the private sector – to drive real and sustainable relief for the people of Turkana County.”

The Monsanto Fund has made multiple commitments to improve nutrition in Kenya. The Monsanto Fund Latia Resource Center Poultry Project in Kajado, Kenya, also launched in April 2018. It will train more than 2,500 women poultry farmers, providing them with a source of income and nutrition for their families.

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