MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Priyanka Chopra Jonas recently visited Kenya in collaboration with UNICEF to highlight the current hunger crisis. Many counties in Kenya have experienced extreme drought due to climatic changes. This has caused the loss of livestock and has been crippling to the economic growth of the country.
Economic Downfall in Kenya
In Turkana County, one of the Kenyan counties visited by Chopra Jonas, one in three children is suffering from acute malnutrition. In addition, 1.4 million children have gone without access to safe drinking water, nutritious food, education, health care and protection from violence and neglect over the past four drought seasons. “Most of the families I met are living on less than $1 a day, and some had not eaten for three days”, claims Chopra Jonas.
During her visit, Chopra Jonas met with members of the Sopel Village community in central Turkana. Due to the damaging effects of the drought, many from the village had chosen to leave to provide better conditions for their livestock. Fortunately, there is now reliable and safe access to water for the entire village due to the addition of a solar-powered borehole at Sopel, UNICEF reports.
As a result of the crisis across east Africa, UNICEF has increased resources in nutrition services and is distributing ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF) to health center facilities. It has been working to support governments to minimize child death rates.
UNICEF Kenya Acting Representative, Jean Lokenga, stated that the harsh conditions could worsen if life-saving materials such as RUTFs deplete due to a lack of funding. UNICEF remains the world’s largest single procurer of RUTF, a nutritious peanut paste and highly effective treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
Access to Drinking Water
In countries around Africa, UNICEF is providing WASH kits to families to help treat water – creating more potable sources of water. Priyanka Chopra Jonas has been working to spread awareness of child starvation and persuade others to donate to the cause.
In an Instagram post, Priyanka writes, “Children are starving to death and millions are on the brink of starvation.”[…] “BUT in order to reverse this unprecedented crisis, money is desperately needed to ensure the good work continues.”
Health Care for Children
Chopra Jonas met with many children suffering from malnutrition at a pediatric stabilization center in Lodwar Town. A two-year-old named Keeza was admitted with severe malnutrition. With a weakened immune system, he was exposed to and contracted malaria, pneumonia and edema, UNICEF reports. Thanks to community health volunteers, Keeza was able to come from his hometown of Nakwamekwi Village in Lodwar Town to receive specialized treatment.
As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka is helping spread awareness of child malnutrition and encouraging others to donate to help those who have faced the primary effects of the drought.
UNICEF is reaching out to governments, private sectors, and individuals for essential funding and donations. This will allow UNICEF more resources to properly respond in support of countries in the Horn of Africa. In one case, Chopra Jonas met with a family that claimed that they were only able to stay in their hometown due to the available water source nearby.
As a mother of a newborn child, Priyanka is passionate about the fight against child malnutrition. Millions of children are fighting severe acute malnutrition, in the worst hunger crisis of our generation,” states UNICEF. With access to water and health facilities, children are able to go to school and receive immunizations and nutritional treatment at dispensaries.
– Kiara Finch