by Chris Mgidu
NAIROBI, March 3 (Xinhua) -- More than 1 million children are affected by severe drought in Kenya, the UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said Friday.
UNICEF said more than 100,000 children under 5 are in need of treatment for severe malnutrition while another 174,000 children are out of school as a direct result of the drought.
"Our efforts should not only alleviate the current suffering brought about by this emergency, but should also aim to build the resilience of families and the capacity of local governments to deal with future droughts and other calamities," UNICEF Representative in Kenya Werner Schultink said in a statement.
The UN children's agency is working with the government and partners to respond to the drought and save lives after the onset of a severe drought in 2016 has hit arid and semi-arid regions in Kenya, affecting over 3 million people.
The hardest-hit counties include Baringo, Garissa, Isiolo, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana, and Wajir.
The latest figures as of the end of February show that 2.7 million people are in need of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance and 1.1 million children are food insecure.
UNICEF said it was scaling-up sectoral coordination and enhancing technical and financial support and life-saving supplies to the government and implementing partners.
"UNICEF is committed to reaching all affected children and their families by supporting the scaling-up of government-led response mechanisms to counter the diverse and devastating effects of the ongoing drought in Kenya," it said.
By January, UNICEF said it had dispatched 12,000 cartons of essential ready-to-use therapeutic food for the treatment of 12,000 severely-malnourished children.