Reliance on relief food must end, PM says

March 25, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has stressed the need to develop a mechanism to sustain donor funded projects after main sponsors pull out of the implementation process.

Speaking during the signing of projects worth Sh849 million spread over a five year period under the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) for Turkana, the Premier underscored the need for local leadership to be fully involved in the process to understand the project concepts for any eventuality in case a donor left.

"Sustainability has been aptly recognised for decades as the biggest single omission in some of the previous donor programmes that were operated in Africa. We must therefore ensure that programmes of this type do not die on the retreat of the donor or development partner but should act as a trigger to development," he said.

He said the nation was fatigued by the vicious cycle in the distribution of relief food whenever the country lapses to the extreme weather patterns and insisted that it was time such predictable phenomena were contained and replaced with sustainable solutions.

The Premier said: "Nothing pains us more than the idea that virtually every year we must distribute relief food when we know that with technological advancement we can create food secured zones in the affected areas."

But he expressed optimism that with the new constitutional dispensation in place, the government would be obligated to meet fundamental social and economic rights of her citizens of which food security is a core component.

US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said the multimillion food security programme in Turkana is meant to cushion residents against the vagaries of poverty and harsh climatic conditions.

"This is done in cooperation with the people of the Turkana, not an outside imposing a paradigm or a model for development. But this will probably be the flagship US Government programme, for how we truly work with the community to model based on their input and tailored as much as possible to match their needs," he said.

Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands Minister Elmi Mohammed said the 10 year plan was a good for the region which has been plagued by years for arid temperatures and high levels of food insecurity.

"I am happy that were are talking about Turkana not because, conflict or famine in the region but for the right reason. Because poverty and inequality anywhere is a threat to stability all over the world," he said.

Mr Elmi added: "And to have substantial amount of resources going in the area of food security is really important."

The USADF is an independent U.S. Federal agency established which responds to local project requests by actively engaging the local community group or enterprise in the design and implementation of the projects. This ensures that outcomes will best address the real community needs.

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