Drought relief with specific focus on child sexual exploitation in Turkana, Kenya

In Turkana, one of the hardest hit counties of Kenya in the ongoing drought crisis, Terre des Hommes Netherlands has started humanitarian aid interventions. Focus of the aid, which is distributed in cooperation with our local partner Diocese of Lodwar, is on food security and nutrition, with a strong link to stopping child exploitation. Terre des Hommes Netherlands is already working in Turkana with its programme addressing child sexual exploitation. Recently we have witnessed an alarming increase in children selling their bodies, specifically on the streets of Lodwar, the main town of Turkana. Main aim of the humanitarian aid is to reduce the vulnerability of children being pushed into sexual exploitation, as well as to reduce the number of children surviving on the streets and selling their bodies.

Humanitarian aid

Food insecurity for humans and animals

The current drought crisis is a result of three consecutive rainy seasons with below average rainfall. Inadequate rain not only limits water supplies for humans and animals, but it also affects their food security, since food crops fail to grow and pasture gets exhausted. Turkana is one of the worst hit counties in Kenya’s dry Northern part, with quickly rising malnutrition rates (above 30%). As a result, many families are on the move in search of pasture and water for their quickly reducing livestock, and for themselves.

Sharp rise in sexually exploited children

Since food in these circumstances is not guaranteed, children are pushed into finding ways to survive by themselves. In many instances this forces children into the sex industry. Since the beginning of the year, the number of children involved in sexual exploitation in Lodwar town has increased from 50 to 500, mostly young girls.

It often happened that there was no food at home and we went to bed with an empty stomach. That's how I ended up on the street. Other girls showed me how to survive. Every day I had several men I gave sexual services to, in exchange for food and protection.

Akuyen, 12 years, from Turkana, Kenya

Child protection

In our humanitarian response, Terre des Hommes Netherlands focuses on direct relief, specifically for the children involved in or at high risk of being pushed into the sex industry, as well as on children under 5 years and pregnant and lactating women who are malnourished or are at risk of malnourishment. More in general, any humanitarian crisis makes children extra vulnerable. Consequently, child protection is a point of attention. All staff involved in implementation and distribution of the humanitarian aid have therefore been trained in do’s and don’ts to safeguard children in humanitarian crises.

Humanitarian response

Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ humanitarian response in Turkana, Kenya, is supported with funding from the Cooperating Aid Organisations (Samenwerkende Hulp Organisaties, SHO) in the Netherlands. Also known as Giro555, this consortium of 11 Dutch aid organisations joins forces at times of exceptional disasters, to jointly appeal to the Dutch people to help victims. The fundraising campaign focusing on the drought in the worst affected areas of Africa and the Middle East, has so far yielded over € 30 million. The budget for Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ humanitarian aid in Turkana amounts to € 510,000.

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