Food Assistance Fact Sheet - Kenya

May of Kenya, showing the capital of Nairobi and surrounding countries with indication of the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands

December 19, 2019

Poverty, food insecurity, undernutrition, and income inequality remain high in Kenya, particularly in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs).  The drought-prone nature of the ASALs has exacerbated vulnerabilities and led to chronic emergency needs, driven by food insecurity and high rates of acute malnutrition.    


  • Between August and October, 3.1 million people were projected to face Crisis (IPC 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity, with households in Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, and Baringo counties among the worst affected, according to IPC.*
  • Food security improvements are expected following the October-to-December short rains, however, excessive rainfall causing flooding and mudslides has affected over 160,000 people and caused 132 deaths, as of December.  According to the UN, floods have caused the displacement of 30,000 individuals and over 26,000 livestock deaths, with heavy rains expected to continue through December.  Poor households recovering from floods and previous drought are projected to face Crisis outcomes in several pastoral areas through January, with Stressed (IPC 2) outcomes expected across central, southeastern, and coastal Kenya, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).  
  • Data collected in June and July for a SMART nutrition survey revealed high levels of malnutrition in most ASAL regions, with Extremely Critical levels—global acute malnutrition prevalence above 30 percent—in parts of Turkana and Marsabit counties, according to FEWS NET.  Nationwide there was an increase in malnutrition with 624,000 children five years and younger acutely malnourished, including 133,000 children experiencing severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
  • Kenya hosts approximately 486,000 refugees, according to the UN.  As of October, Kenya hosted over 262,000 Somali and 119,000 South Sudanese who rely heavily on humanitarian assistance.

*The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a standardized tool that aims to classify the severity and magnitude of acute food insecurity. The IPC scale, which is comparable across countries, ranges from Minimal (IPC 1) to Famine (IPC 5).


  • USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) supports the UN World Food Program (WFP) to provide relief and build resilience among vulnerable populations in Kenya’s ASAL counties through U.S. in-kind food aid or cash transfers in exchange for work on improving community assets.
  • FFP supports WFP to provide specialized nutrition products to children five years and younger and pregnant and lactating women experiencing acute malnutrition.  FFP also enables the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide treatment for SAM in the ASALs and among refugees.
  • FFP supports food distributions, education on maternal and child health, and livelihoods training for refugees and host community members.  FFP also supports WFP’s refugee operations through cash transfers and local procurement of specialized nutrition products.  
  • FFP is supporting Catholic Relief Services and Mercy Corps to sustainably reduce acute malnutrition in Kenya’s ASALs over the next five years through multi-sectoral activities.

Food for Peace Contributions

Total Contributions:

  U.S. Dollars Metric Tons
Fiscal Year 2019 $101.9 million 43,125 MT
Fiscal Year 2018 $89.3 million 67,965 MT
Fiscal Year 2017 $89.5 million 64,795 MT

Country Specific Guidance

Related Resources

Last updated: December 19, 2019

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