Airtel, KRC dispatch relief food to NEP

May 25, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – Several trucks laden with food aid were dispatched on Wednesday from the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) Headquarters as part of an initiative by Airtel and the Kenya Red Cross to alleviate hunger.

The ongoing programme will send 150 metric tons of Unimix, a fortified corn and soya blend, to over 250 schools in 10 target districts in the drought stricken regions of North Eastern and Coast Provinces.

According to the United Nations the drought has forced some 10,000 Kenyan pastoralists and 30,000 livestock to cross the border into Uganda in search of food – adversely leading to increased school dropouts.

Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet said the Sh16.8 million food donation from Airtel is meant to ultimately help increase school enrolment in the affected areas.

"There are kids who are not going to school because of the drought. Their parents cannot afford to take them to school because they\’ve lost all their animals and livelihood. A number of kids have a problem going to school because of no meals," he said.

The initiative will continue over the next six months and has already sent 30 tons of food aid to Turkana, which Mr Gullet said is in dire need, having not received any rainfall to date.

KRCS assessment reports show the drought evolving in other regions and counties in Northeastern including Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and in Coast region in Tana River, Kwale, Kilifi, and Taita Taveta.

With Kenya\’s vast natural resources Mr Gullet said there should be no reason why some Kenyans are dependent on food assistance.

"We\’ve started projects on Tana River, where people who have been on food aid for forty years, are today exporting produce from their area. Close to fifty years of independence our people should not be on food handouts," he said.

Other interventions include rehabilitation of strategic boreholes, small-scale irrigation activities, and animal destalking.

KRCS has also given greenhouses to100 secondary schools countrywide, to teach children the importance of agriculture, an effort Mr Gullet said will empower the next generation to be self-sustainable.

"The green house, which is a technology by Amiran Kenya, is easy to maintain. It\’s about empowering kids, educating them about food security and alternative farming," he said.

Since its drought appeal launch in January, the KRCS has raised Sh350 million of the Sh1.8 billion target it seeks, to support 1,860,000 beneficiaries in the drought-stricken areas until October.

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