The northern parts of Kenya are prone to droughts and flooding that frequently affect the Horn of Africa. The predominantly livestock keeping communities in these arid and semi-arid parts of the country have been gradually weakened by the droughts that erode their sources of livelihoods rendering the populations more vulnerable. Livestock losses caused by these droughts, the lack of sustained development and the increase in local populations have diminished the assets of many pastoralist communities.
Food insecurity, and poor access to health, water and sanitation services contribute to high levels of malnutrition, which is a major concern in northern Kenya. Coupled with insecurity, and underdevelopment, and with little or no recovery time between the droughts, millions of people have lost their main source of livelihoods, that is, livestock.
Kenya hosts close to 600,000 refugees with almost 500,000 residing in the world's largest refugee camp complex - Dadaab refugee camp in north-east Kenya. Conflict in neighbouring states especially Somalia has led to an influx of asylum seekers in Dadaab and in Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya. Refugees in Kenya predominantly depend on humanitarian assistance since they are not allowed to work for a living.
The Commission has been providing support to populations affected by drought for many years in the arid and semi arid parts of the country. During emergencies, the European Commission undertakes life saving programmes that target the most vulnerable segments of the population. Such actions include provision of basic health services, food assistance, and the integration of nutrition activities into the health system.
Communities which are forewarned of drought are better able to prepare appropriate and timely responses. The Commission invests in preparedness actions which include monitoring key indicators such as water availability, animal health and resource based conflict issues as well as improving systems capable of predicting drought in close collaboration with the Delegation of the European Union to Kenya and its partner, the National Drought Management Authority.
In Kenya, the European Commission's humanitarian assistance also targets the Somali refugees as well as the host populations. The Commission has provided substantial funding over a number of years for the Dadaab refugee camps. The funds have mainly supported food aid, the building of latrines, the rehabilitation of out-of-date water supply systems, primary health care activities, as well as a large expansion programme to accommodate the continuing influx of refugees from Somalia.
The European Commission also operates a humanitarian air service, ECHO Flight, to northern Kenya to facilitate access to remote areas by ECHO partners and other humanitarian agencies. It is provided free of charge to end users.