News / Africa

Humanitarian Groups Call for Investment, Infrastructure to Prevent Famine in Kenya

A Turkana woman carries her child at a peace meeting in the Lobei Kraal village of Turkana district in North-western Kenya (file photo)
A Turkana woman carries her child at a peace meeting in the Lobei Kraal village of Turkana district in North-western Kenya (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
Michael Onyiego

As drought continues in Kenya's arid north, a coalition of humanitarian groups is urging the east African nation to combat future shortages through infrastructure development and economic reform.

It has been months since parts of northern Kenya have seen any rainfall. Though the region is accustomed to sparse conditions, alarm is beginning to set in as humanitarian organizations brace for an impending crisis. Kenya's grain reserves are running low and no rain is expected until at least April.

The lack of water and available pasture has put millions of livestock at risk, straining the resources of the pastoralist communities that rely on them for survival. The Kenyan Red Cross has launched an appeal for more than $22 million in aid to help nearly 2 million Kenyans threatened by the drought.

But on Tuesday, a coalition of humanitarian and development organizations questioned the necessity of famine and crisis during periods of little rain. Minister for Development of Northern Kenya Mohamed Elmi called Kenya's response to the current drought "unacceptable."

"Drought is a regular and predictable event," said Elmi.  "With carefully planned interventions early enough in the dry cycle, well before any signs of crisis are apparent, we know that the worst impacts of drought are entirely preventable.

Despite its status as one of Africa's leading agricultural nations, Kenya is no stranger to drought. A massive dry spell from 2007 through 2009 led to a spike in food prices and threatened the country's growing economy.

But according to the Regional Learning and Advocacy Program for Dryland Communities (REGLAP) the perennial threat of famine in Kenya's north is due more to historic neglect than the region's difficult conditions.

Residents of Kenya's northern provinces are some of the country's poorest. According to REGLAP, less than 10 percent of residents in Kenya's Northeastern Province have access to safe drinking water, compared with 56 percent countrywide. Roads connecting the region with more populous areas are few and far between and many are simply dirt paths through desert.

There is also chronic underinvestment in the region's resources. Despite containing nearly 75 percent of Kenya's livestock, the country's arid regions employ less than 10 percent of the industry's workers. The government allocates about one percent of its budget to the industry annually.

REGLAP, which consists of groups such as Oxfam, Save the Children and CARE, believes that by addressing such extreme underdevelopment and underinvestment, the Kenyan government can provide resources for pastoralist communities to ride out the drought.

Meanwhile, Minister Mohamed Elmi has proposed new institutions to combat famine in its early stages and prevent serious crises. The Minister has proposed the creation of a national drought authority and fund in order to respond to drought situations without the delay of parliamentary approval.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid