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Kenya Provides Funds to Combat Drought, Famine

Somalis fleeing hunger in their drought-stricken nation walk along the main road leading from the Somalian border to the refugee camps around Dadaab, Kenya, Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Kenyan government has spent over 10 billion shillings ($109 million) to combat drought in the country’s north, said government spokesman Alfred Mutua.

He said the military has been deployed to help expedite food and medical supplies to citizens. Kenya like other countries in the Horn of Africa is saddled with prolonged drought in some areas of the country.

“The government of Kenya has decided that it is important to speed up the [delivery of] food that goes to starving people across the country. We have a major food crisis in terms of starvation,” said Mutua.

He said the drought has been “a logistical nightmare” because government is made up of various bureaucratic systems, some of which are outdated.

Last week, Kenya’s Cabinet agreed to deploy the military and other security agencies to expedite food delivery to the drought-plagued north.

“It’s been a bit slow,” said Mutua. “The [day-to-day] system that we use year-round [is not efficient handling] emergencies… So, we need a new [one]. That means food needs to get there much faster than before, [and there should be] less bureaucracy and more efficiency.”

He also said Nairobi is looking at ways to be better prepared when drought comes.

“We want to have a better system so that [weather] predictions are acted upon much earlier,” said Mutua. “If you know there is going to be hunger let’s say in September, food [should already] be in place in August - not wait until September when people are starving to start getting the food there.”

Relief workers say the Horn is experiencing the worst drought in six decades. The U.N. has said more than 11 million people are in need of food aid.

Mutua said Kenya strongly urges the international community to step up relief efforts to help refugees from neighboring Somali affected by the drought and famine.

“It is actually inhumane to wait until [refugees] arrive at your doorstep, dying… and you cannot save all of them,” he said. “[On the other hand] food can actually be delivered to people before they get to the Kenyan border.”

Mutua also said his government will “spare no resources” to ensure that Kenyans affected by the drought do not starve.