Kenya: drought – hunger crisis 2021 – emergency number: MDRKE049 – Kenya

A total of 8 million Swiss francs is requested with this emergency call to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to assist the Kenyan Red Cross Society (KRCS) in providing humanitarian aid to 500,000 people (100,000 households) during the period of 18 months to cope with the current drought crisis in Kenya. The operation focuses on livelihood and basic needs, health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection, gender and inclusion (PGI), and capacity building of the National Society. The planned response will reflect the current situation and information available at the time of the evolving operation and will be adjusted based on further developments and ongoing evaluations.


  • July 2021: The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) bulletin is issued, finding twelve counties are suffering from stress.

  • July 2021: IFRC launches DREF operation to provide 2,000 families with 2 months of cash transfers and 1,000 families with 1 month of benefits in kind

  • August 2021: The Long Rains Assessment Report published in August indicates deteriorating food security and nutrition in 12 counties, with around 23 counties experiencing a drought

  • September 8, 2021: The President of the Republic of Kenya declares the drought a national catastrophe.

  • September 09, 2021: The IFRC launched the EA to assist the KRCS to increase the response.

Situation overview

Food security has deteriorated in Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) counties in Kenya, mainly due to the poor performance of the short rains in October, December 2020 and the long rains in March and May 2021. Both seasons were characterized by late dips, below-average cumulative amounts and poor temporal and spatial distribution. The latest National Drought Warning Bulletin reports that twelve counties, namely Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Kilifi, Tana River, Makueni, Lamu, Samburu, Kitui, Isiolo and Laikipia are in the drought phase as of July 2021 shot for August reports, that more than 2.1 million people in the arid and semi-arid regions (ASAL) of Kenya are seriously food insecure after two consecutive bad rainy seasons that have hampered crop production. This corresponds to an increase of about 70 percent since February 2021, when an estimated 1.4 million people (10 percent of the population in ASAL counties) were classified in crisis (IPC 3) or poorer food insecurities, according to the Integrated Food Analysis of Safety Stages Classification. In addition, the Kenyan Meteorological Agency predicts that the third consecutive bad rainy season (October – December – short rains) will result in below-average harvests and worsening livestock conditions in northern and eastern Kenya.

As the situation worsened, the President of the Republic of Kenya declared the drought a national disaster on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. It is reported that the National Treasury Department and the Department of the Interior and National Government Coordination have been instructed to advance government efforts to assist the affected households, including the distribution of water and relief supplies and the reception of livestock.

Resilience is severely weakened by economic and household health damage as people are forced to develop negative coping strategies to overcome acute food insecurity. In addition to the poor performance of the rainy season, other drivers of acute food insecurity include recurring droughts, the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated effects, conflict and insecurity, pests and diseases that drive up all staple foods and livestock prices.

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