Kilifi is one of the 47 counties that make up Kenya. Almost 1,5 million people live here, most of whom live on the coastal strip and in the immediate interior, where the opportunities associated with tourism, agriculture and trade are greater. There are many photos that portray Kilifi as a paradise made of white beaches and unspoiled nature by the crystal clear water of the Indian Ocean. But the reality of this county is much more complex.

Climate change in Kilifi

The agricultural sector holds some of the main and principal economic activities in Kilifi County. Agriculture, livestock and fishing are among the main activities in the sector, both in the commercial and in the subsistence sphere of households. Normally large pastures and favorable weather conditions allow these activities to be carried out successfully along the more than 300 km of coast of the county. However the situation has changed dramaticallyin recent times.

Climate change led to the increase in intensity and frequency of extreme weather events such as severe drought and floods. These events have had negative socio-economic impacts on almost all sectors. Rain season usually happens twice a year, but lately there was none, limited or delayed with extremely high temperatures. This has caused soil erosion, loss of crops, livestock decay and consequent deaths (20.000 livestock dead in Kilifi County since early 2022), ethnic tensions between groups of farmers and herders, worrying increase in child and maternal malnutrition rates, school dropout and a consequent increase in child labor and abuse.

The situation in Kilifi moving away from the coast

Moving from the areas bordering the Indian Ocean, Kilifi's scenario changes radically. The internal areas are among the most disadvantaged in Kenya in terms of economic opportunity, land yield, ethnic tensions, healthcare and education coverage. As mentioned, the last two years have proved extremely difficult due to the prolonged drought wave. To this are added the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has completely stopped tourism in the region. This has drastically worsened the situation of thousands of families, whose sources of income are often linked to the tourism and its related industries.

In districts such as Bamba, 90% of families live below the poverty line and malnutrition is seriously affecting the lives of mothers and children under the age of 5. Furthermore, according to government data, one out of 2 children is malnourished and the situation could worsen further without timely and targeted intervention.

The wave of drought also caused reduction of drinking water and the contamination of that available. This situation leads to a worrying increase in cases of dysentery and intestinal disorders: conditions that put the most vulnerable categories at serious risk.

World Friends in Kilifi: new opportunities for the health of the most vulnerable

The difficulties that have recently emerged in the Kilifi district are the reason why we have decided to undertake a new project in the area. "KILI - Contrasting the effects of the drought and pandemic on the nutritional situation of Kilifi County" is an 8-month intervention, specifically aimed at facing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and drought on nutritional conditions of the most fragile population groups. The initiative is based on collaboration with local health authorities and community reference figures, such as leaders, village chiefs and traditional healers. Alongside with them, we will bring our expertise, training health personnel and Community Health Volunteers to reach the most fragile population with mobile clinics, including the mothers and children of Kilifi.

Screening, distribution of nutritional supplements and awareness raising are the activities with which we will approach local communities to monitor cases of malnutrition and refer the most serious ones to the county hospital. We will also administer medication to prevent and treat intestinal parasites in school-age children as well medication and supplements to pregnant women.

The KILI project is carried out thanks to the contribution of Progetto Agata Smeralda ODV.

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