A delegation from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Kenya, led by Country Representative Shaheen Nilofer, is currently in West Pokot County to assess the progress of UNICEF’s ongoing support programs in arid and semi-arid pastoral areas.
County Governor Simon Kachapin stated that the County has been grappling with food scarcity, resulting in alarmingly high cases of malnutrition among children below the age of five.
“The Country Director is visiting various facilities in the county to observe the impact and progress of the partnership we have had with UNICEF. She will visit most of the projects in North and West Pokot,” said Governor Kachapin.
The county boss acknowledged that the county’s low dietary diversity and meal frequency are attributed to hunger and food scarcity, stemming from pervasive poverty and frequent crop failures.
The recent Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) for 2022, conducted in collaboration with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the Ministry of Health (MoH), and other stakeholders, identified West Pokot County as one of the hardest-hit regions in terms of food scarcity.
The report shows malnutrition rates, with a stunting rate of 35.1 percent and wasting affecting 11.0 percent of its young population, placing West Pokot as the second-highest county in the country with the highest malnutrition rate.
In response to this crisis, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), in conjunction with the County Government and facilitated by the County Nutrition Action Plan 2019-2023 and the County Community Health Services Act 2020, has been actively engaged in combating the rising tide of malnutrition in the county, aiming to reduce stunting by 2023.
UNICEF Country Representative, Ms. Shaheen Nilofer, expressed her appreciation for the county’s role in the success of UNICEF’s programs within West Pokot. She emphasized the crucial need to maintain and strengthen the partnership, given the challenges experienced due to limited resources.
She lauded the impressive progress made in improving health indicators in West Pokot and highlighted its role in reducing health disparities and advancing Universal Health Care (UHC).
She stated that UNICEF will continue to support the county and ensure the programs remain adaptable and responsive to the evolving needs of the community, while also emphasising the importance of addressing issues such as FGM, early marriages, and teenage pregnancies.