The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) plans to cut food rations for half a million mainly Somali and South Sudanese refugees living in camps in northern Kenya because of a shortfall in donor funding, the aid agency said on Thursday.
WFP said as of Monday, it would reduce the size of rations to Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps by about a third, adding that the cuts would need to continue through to September unless more money was found.
Some $12.4 million is urgently needed to avoid “a critical food gap” in August and September, the agency said.
“We are very worried about how this cut may affect the people who rely on our assistance,” Thomas Hansson, WFP’s acting country director for Kenya, said in a statement.
“But our food stocks are running out, and reducing the size of rations is the only way to stretch our supplies to last longer. We hope that this is only a temporary measure and we continue to appeal to the international community to assist.”
Since it was established in 1991 when civil war broke out in neighbouring Somalia, Dadaab has received hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict and drought in the Horn of Africa country.
Kakuma, near Kenya’s frontier with South Sudan, was initially set up in 1992 for unaccompanied minors fleeing warring factions in what was then southern Sudan.
WFP said it distributes 9,300 metric tons of food for 500,000 refugees in northern Kenya each month at a cost of $9.6 million.
Every two weeks, they collect supplies of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and a nutrient-enriched flour made from soya and maize which provide 2,100 kilocalories per person per day.
From Monday, only 1,520 kilocalories per day will provided, a 30 percent drop, WFP said.
Last November, WFP was forced to cut rations in half before more funding was found, allowing full rations to be resumed from the start of the year.