MOMBASA, Kenya, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations World Food Program (WFP), in partnership with the Kenyan government, on Friday launched cash transfers to help 24,000 families or 96,000 people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in informal settlements in the coastal city of Mombasa.
Lauren Landis, the WFP's country director for Kenya, said the UN agency's support complements other social protection programs run by national and county governments.
"COVID-19 has caused untold suffering especially to families living in poor urban areas who normally rely on informal day-to-day employment," Landis said in a statement issued in Mombasa. "Many families in the coastal region are struggling just to feed themselves."
Travel restrictions and partial lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Kenya dealt a devastating blow to the economy, particularly affecting families on the coast who depend on informal daily employment to earn money directly or indirectly from the tourism industry.
According to the ministry of health, Mombasa County accounts for 12 percent of the number of COVID-19 cases in Kenya, the second highest number after the capital, Nairobi.
Tourism was the leading source of income in the coastal region before the pandemic, but due to rising infections, most of the tourism sector was forced to cut its workforce and many businesses either closed entirely or are struggling to stay afloat.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, as many as 1.7 million Kenyans have lost their jobs across the country.
The unemployment rate doubled to 10.4 percent, up from 5.2 percent in March, when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported.
The WFP is also partnering with the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the Mombasa county government to support treatment for malnutrition among 6,000 children and women in Mombasa.
Under the scheme, the WFP will distribute a nutritious peanut-based paste for children and fortified flour for malnourished mothers. Enditem