News / Africa

    Kenyan NGOs Raise Funds for Drought, Famine Relief

    Turkana women wait for food relief at Kalok Tonyang in the Turkana district northwest of Nairobi, August 9, 2011
    Turkana women wait for food relief at Kalok Tonyang in the Turkana district northwest of Nairobi, August 9, 2011

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    • Clottey interview with Abbas Gullet, general secretary of the Red Cross Society of Kenya

    Peter Clottey

    The general secretary of the Red Cross Society of Kenya says the second round of corporate fund raising for the famine-stricken areas of the country will begin Thursday.

    The Red Cross has teamed up with some non-governmental organizations including media owners in a plan called Kenya for Kenyans, which encourages citizens to donate cash or food to areas suffering food shortages.

    Abbas Gullet said the aim of the fund raising drive is to raise about $10.8 million (1 billion shillings) to help combat the crisis. He said his organization is overwhelmed by the response:

    “Originally, our idea was to raise about [$ 5 million] in one month,” said Gullet.  Within the first days of this campaign last week, we were able to reach our objective of half a billion Kenyan shillings,” said Gullet. “[The] initial collections [were] from Kenyans and then eventually we brought Kenyan corporations on board.”

    He also said there was need to increase the fund raising target to at least 1 billion shillings, due to the overwhelming response.

    “This is [the] first ever [effort] of this magnitude [where everyone contributed]:  individuals, the private sector, corporations, media owners, and NGOs,” said Gullet.

    “It important that ordinary Kenyans take initiative to support their own before the international community or the government says it will do this or that,” said Gullet. “I am overwhelmed with joy and with excitement that ordinary Kenyans… will contribute.  It is phenomenal; it’s never happened to this extent in this country and even on the continent.”

    He said funds will be used for food and water, which are already being sent to the north and to rural and dry parts of the country.

    "Any excess of the billion shillings… will be used for a pilot project integrating food, health and water security for some of the worse affected communities,” said Gullet. “It’s about mid- to long term to show that we can turn around and address the root causes of famine.”

    Analysts say East Africa is experiencing its worst drought in more than 50 years. Famine has been declared in several regions of neighboring Somalia, and development experts fear it could spread through the Horn.

    Recent news reports say at least 14 people recently died in Kenya’s northwestern Turkana region from hunger.

    Kenya has declared the ongoing drought and food emergency in parts of the north a national disaster.

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