Friday, April 29, 2011

Kenya needs a helping hand

The Kenya Red Cross has described the hunger situation in Turkana County as dire and called for urgent food aid to the region.
In a report sent to its Nairobi headquarters, the local Red Cross office says the drought situation is “severe” with most of the vulnerable groups suffering from severe malnutrition
The report, availed to The Standard, reveals that most residents in the County have not received food aid since March 2011, forcing families to feed on carcasses of livestock and wild fruits.
“More than 6,000 people at Nakurio and Louwae village in Kerio division in Turkana central district, are the most hit by starvation require urgent food aid,” it added.
The situation has been caused by persistent drought that has hit the region in the past 12 months causing serious depletion of food and water in the region.
“The County has not received stable rainfall for long resulting in drying up of water points and a total decline in availability of food,” read the report.
Compiled by Turkana branch Chairman, Alexander Lama, and Coordinator Edward Edung Ethuro, the report indicates that 1,377 households are worst hit.
“The families that heavily rely on food aid are experiencing starvation and the worst hit are children, pregnant mothers, the sick and elderly,” they said.
A village Elder in Nakurio and Louwae villages in Turkana Central, Amotoga Lokal, said people are going for several days without food and water.
Lokal said most of the water holes have dried up forcing people to trek for over 10 kilometres in search of water.
“Several residents are weak and emanciated due to hunger. The area has remained dry depleting food, water and pasture resources,” he said.
One of the area chiefs, who requested anonymity, said the government had tried to salvage the situation last month by distributing 90 bags of relief maize to starving residents.
“But the food was not enough to meet the needs of several households that had gone without food for several months,” he said.
The Red Cross officials said last month, residents received 0.5kg of relief food per household, which was not enough for a day’s meal.
“We appeal to the government and humanitarian agencies to intervene and avert further looming deaths due to starvation,” they said.
Turkana Central DC Humphrey Nakitare confirmed that the drought situation has threatened dozens of lives and livestock in the area.
“The situation is indeed dire and the issue has been taken up at highest levels in Government,” said the DC.
He said the Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who toured the area on Sunday had been briefed on the critical drought situation in the area.
When he toured the region on Sunday to attend a funeral service, Kalonzo directed the Ministry of Special Programmes to start distributing food to the starving Turkana residents.
“We cannot allow people to starve and yet there was enough food in government stores to feed the people,” the VP said.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kenya cuts tax on maize, wheat; 5 die from hunger

Kenya – An infant was left suckling on her mother's lifeless body last week after the woman died of hunger in Kenya's drought-stricken north. The heartbreaking scene is one reason the government on Wednesday cut taxes on maize and wheat.

Prices on food and fuel are rising globally, but higher costs are hitting residents in East Africa particularly hard.

A relative and a witness said the mother who was nursing a two-month-old baby died a week-ago after days of going without regular meals because she could not afford to buy food.

Her death brings the number of people reported to have died in Kenya from hunger to five.
The Kenyan government announced Wednesday that it was removing the tax on maize and wheat imports in a bid to cushion citizens from the effects of rising global food prices.

Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga told parliament that the government also wants to remove all taxes on kerosene, the main fuel used for cooking and lighting houses in Kenya. Odinga said the high cost of petroleum products, due to the turmoil in parts of the Middle East and North Africa, has led to a high inflation rate in the country.

He asked parliament to urgently pass a motion his office will present to remove the taxes on kerosene.

Odinga said in the long-term Kenya has to reduce dependency on imported oil by turning to renewable energy.

"We will maximize generation of geothermal and other renewable energy and totally replace kerosene with clean energy, "Odinga said. He said the country must also work to ensure that it produces sufficient food for itself.

Odinga said due the sharp increase in the cost of living, the government will announce an increase to the minimum wage on Sunday.
Kenya Red Cross spokeswoman, Nelly Muluka, said that four people — two children aged eight and 10 — a 65-year-old man and 55-year-old woman had died of hunger this month in Nakurio region of the Turkana district. Turkana is about 400 miles (649 kilometers) north of the capital, Nairobi.

Thomas Ngare,58, said his 30-year-old daughter Napak Katiya died last Wednesday in her sleep with her two-month-old baby by her side in another village in the Turkana district.

He said Katiya was going without regular meals despite the fact that she was breast-feeding.

"Even I did not have means to help her," he told the Associated Press by phone.

Ngare said maize was scarce in the remote area they live in, and lately when it is available in the market, the price is too high for the residents.

He said many of the residents in the area depend on relief food from the donor agencies.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Struggling to feed his family in a region hard-hit by a severe drought, Mude Abdille is awaiting for a drop of rain from the barren skies.
“The effect of this drought is rippling throughout our land,” a helpless Abdille told
“If it doesn't rain very soon even our people will begin dying."
The Kenyan Muslim herder is struggling to feed his family and his herd in the village of Burmaayow, a remote hamlet about 100km from Kenya’s north-eastern Muslim county of Wajir, where a crippling drought bites herders.
“The drought is slowly enveloping around our village,” said the father of seven.
“It is matter of time to start counting losses,” added the old man who is yet to recover from the effect of the previous drought.
The surrounding environment is dry and dusty. The sun-baked earth is bereft of any vegetation and the heat exacerbates every passing moment as Abdille’s herd of about 20 heads of camel face a severe shortage of pasture and water. Water is so scarce and even wells have dried up and people trek for long distances in search of water.
“He is crying for water,” says Abdille, 54, pointing to his wailing baby boy, who is sitting in his mother’s lap.
“Since yesterday, we have not had a drop of water in our homestead. The baby is restive.”
The last two years have seen erratic rainfall, which has severely damaged crop production and pasture availability for livestock. Abdille’s household relies on 20 litres of water for two days, and sometimes it might pass several days without a drop of water in his humdrum homestead. Residents here live without water sources of their own, relying on charity water tankers that travel to reach the area twice a week.
“All the watering points have dried up in our neighbourhood. The nearest place to get water is roughly 50km,” says Abdille’s wife, Amina.
Adding to their suffering, the drought has left residents struggling to find food to feed their families.
“Since the herds are growing weak by the day, milk production is barely enough to sustain the family,” says Amina.
According to charity agencies, the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition rate for the Northeastern Kenya stood at 17.2%. As per the international standards, this level is very critical.
“We just hang on for dear life,” the poor Muslim mother laments.
Like Abdille’s family, many Muslim herders are no longer able to cope up with the drought anymore.
“Things are getting from bad to worse,” says Adan Garad, a village elder. “The season is so bad. Animals have already started succumbing in several pastoral villages.”
The drought is ringing the alarm bell as full-blown disaster looms large as there are nearly two million herders suffering from it. An all out Local and international appeal has been sent by the NORTHERN KENYA CAUCUS on drought and Famine and much is needed.
“As of now, there is hardly any emergency intervention on the ground,” said Abdifatah Yare, an aid worker with WASDA, an nongovernmental organisation.
“The government always comes in late when many lives and livelihoods are lost.
“Despite many appeals from local partners on the ground, donors are still reluctant too,” he added.
The Kenyan government has appealed for an emergency intervention to feed and water thousands of famine-ravaged herders in north-eastern Kenya.
“People are simply on the deathbed,” Kenya’s Livestock Minister Mohamed Kuti told a press conference in Nairobi. “We need an emergency mitigation measure to reach out to people and livestock who are on the verge of death.”
Biting Drought
The severe drought is not only bites Kenyan Muslims, but is also spreading across Horn of Africa.
“Death of both people and livestock is escalating,” Mohamed Abukar, the Executive Officer of Hardo, a humanitarian organization in Somalia, told
“The biggest problem is that there is no mitigation efforts going on, people are waiting simply to die.”
Besides Kenya, Somali, Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia are also affected by the drought. Horn of African, a region where the overwhelming majority are Muslims, is one of the poorest in the world and the drought is adding up to the trouble. According to the United Nations, Somalia is already facing a dire humanitarian crisis in which 3.2 million people, more than 40 percent of the population, is in need of aid.
The local media in the war-torn county have already reported people who have died as a result of starvation in south-central Somalia. A few days ago, Hiraan Online, a Mogadishu-based Somali publication, described the situation in Somalia as the worst in recent years.
''One family alone lost 500 heads of goats due to the bad season, but the terrifying thing is the owner of the goats have committed suicide after witnessing the death of his precious assets one by one,” village elder Haji Osman Khataarey told the publication.
In the tiny nation of Djibouti, the government has appealed for $38.9 million in aid to assist pastoralists and rural dwellers affected by drought. On the other side, the Eritrean Relief and Refugees Commission (ERREC) made an appeal calling for 400,000 metric tones of grain to avert the impending humanitarian crisis that would result from this year's prolonged drought.
“In the larger Horn, the drought crisis is worse than that of 2005-2006,” said Ahmed Hussein, an international aid worker in Nairobi.

This is not only affecting muslims but christians as well, and any assistance from every one out there is very welcome and will be appreciated for.

Save a life by skipping one of your favourite meal and instead donate that amount to Muungano and help feed this people because "together we can"

Friday, April 22, 2011


To reach the least known and indeed, forgotten of Kenya’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), I travelled north to Samburu County, enduring the bandit infested bone breaking 110km stretch of ruts and furrows that pass for a road between Rumuruti and Maralal town.(..)Unlike other IDPs who receive food and even money from the Government, through the Ministry of Special Programmes, the little relief food that trickles into the camp.

Experts argue that unless the government and relief organizations move in to save the situation, thousands of livestock will die and hundreds of pastoralist communities will stare starvation in the face.

In an early warning signal, the Meteorological Department is asking the people from northern Kenya- prone to drought - to brace themselves for the worst drought in as many years.

Consequently, the Meteorological Department has also put the government on notice, on the need to start stocking up and boost food supplies by seeking help from world food organizations in preparation for hard times ahead.

The arid and predominantly pastoral North Eastern province in addition to drought and insecurity due to cattle rustling and general banditry that have significantly affected the marginal farming activities in the area suffers from a deplorable lack of infrastructure. Lack of sufficient water resources for both humans and animals is a major problem in the region as the few water wells dry up immediately drought sets in.

Predominantly inhabited by the ethnic Somali, and whose residents cite lack of infrastructure as an example of deliberate neglect by the government, the region is still haunted by insecurity dating back to the early days of independence when a secessionist war raged, and more recently, spillover banditry from neighbouring Ethiopia and Somalia.

With insufficient rainfall and limited water sources, subsistence farming is negligible, with the major income for food purchase being livestock. But persistent drought and livestock diseases have significantly reduced the livestock population. This, combined with lack of a structured livestock market after the demise of the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC), has eroded the purchasing power of the residents, leaving them susceptible to food deficit situations.

Early last month, the North-Eastern Provincial Commissioner Abdul Mwaserrah issued an alert saying a severe famine a result of many months of drought in the area was looming large. Mwaserrah was taking the cue from eleven Members of Parliament from North-Eastern province, who had earlier put the government on alert, warning that the region was already reeling under a severe drought.

Stanslaus Gachara, an agricultural meteorologist cautions that this year and the season that runs to 2004 has and will continue to experience one of the worst rainfall deficit years for the Arid And Semi-Arid Lands [ASALs] since the year 2000.

The coming drought is as a result of cumulative prolonged drought that has persisted since 2000 , he says. In some parts of Kenya, the drought that commenced in mid 1998 after the El Nino rains continued unabated to this year, even with recent heavy rainfall in late April and early May , he adds.

It is worth noting that after the El Nino phenomenon, the north-eastern and north-western parts of the country were severely affected by drought. The Meteorological Department s Assistant Director of forecasting Peter Ambenje observes that the rainfall data collected through the year 2000, were on average the lowest on record since 1961, which, though not known to many Kenyans, was worse than the rain shortage of 1984 .

The year 1984 will be remembered as one of the worst famine years in contemporary Kenya, in which the government was forced to import yellow maize to heavily subsidise acute staple food shortages, occasioned by failed rainfall and drought.

Ambenje observes: The drought season in the ASALs is a pattern that repeats itself after every four or so years . According to him, the north-eastern and north-western parts of the country should expect acute short rains that were supposed to have started in mid-October.

The north-eastern and north-western regions, says Ambenje, both of which consist of ASALs, exhibit annual rainfall patterns that range from as low as 230mm to 700mm .

While food shortages are always blamed on drought, experts apportion the blame to the government for its poor agricultural policies. According to Dr Hezron Nyangito, a researcher with the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research [IPAR], poor policies are to blame for the perennial food shortages.

Government records show that since independence, the country has had major nationwide food deficits in 1980/81, 1981/1982 and 1984/1985, which, though mainly caused by drought were also partly due to negative effects of poor agricultural policies , observes Nyangito.

Support us in any way possible to bring back life in this people, if the government can support this people, we can.