Sun, 24 Sep 2023

GARISSA, Kenya, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations and humanitarian partners in Kenya have appealed for 472.6 million U.S. dollars to help 4.3 million drought-affected people in 2023 amid a severe drought.

The UN called on the international community to step up solidarity with communities facing the devastating consequences of the longest and most severe drought in Kenya's recent history.

UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya Stephen Jackson said more funding is urgently needed to help save lives, alleviate the suffering caused by this unprecedented drought, and avert the worst-case scenario in 2023.

"Let us hold in our heads and hearts that each one of those 6.4 million who urgently need our help," Jackson said in a joint statement issued on Monday evening during the launch of the appeal in Kenya's eastern county of Garissa.

According to the UN, needs in Kenya's arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) continue to rise as the region faces its fifth consecutive below-average rainy season from October to December.

Humanitarian partners have estimated that there will be 6.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2023 in the ASALs region of Kenya.

At least 4.35 million people are going to bed hungry, and about 5 million people cannot access enough water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, according to the UN.

In pastoral areas, herders have already lost 2.5 million livestock as a result of the drought. Early projections indicated the possibility of a sixth consecutive poor rainy season from March to May 2023.

Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Inger Andersen said Kenyans who contribute less than 0.1 percent of global greenhouse gases are bearing the brunt of global warming and urgently need support, both now and well into the future.

"It is critical that climate finances are immediately unlocked to help people like those I've met here to rapidly adapt to their changing environment," Andersen said.

According to the UN, families are taking desperate measures to survive, including fleeing their homes in search of sustenance. The risks faced by women and girls have risen sharply since the drought began amid growing reports of children dropping out of school and child marriage cases.

Some 89 humanitarian partners reached nearly 1 million people with vital assistance between January and September despite an underfunded crisis, complementing the government-led response to the drought, the UN said.

Kenyan Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the government is appealing for assistance to address the resource gap in implementing drought interventions to minimize losses and catastrophic farming yields.

"We are here in Garissa to bring a spotlight to the suffering being endured by Kenyans as a result of the global climate crisis. Our resources cannot be sufficient to address the challenges of climate change," Gachagua said.

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