NAIROBI, Kenya July 30- The first consignment of food aid to Northern Kenya under the Kenyans4Kenya initiative will be flagged-off by members of the public at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park on Sunday morning.
The first batch will contain over 100 metric tons of food and other emergency relief items destined to areas around Turkana, worst hit by the prevailing famine that has already claimed the lives of a few Kenyans.
The food donation is made possible by an initiative dubbed the Kenyans4Kenya made possible by a partnership between the Safaricom Foundation, KCB Foundation and members of the Media Owners Association. The initiative seeks to bring the Kenyan public together with a target of raising Sh500 million in four weeks to address a mix of short, medium and long term intervention measures to ease the humanitarian crisis in northern Kenya.
Kenyans have turned up in large numbers to contribute to the Kenyans4Kenya kitty. As at 12.30pm today, M-PESA contributions through the emergency number 111111 had risen to slightly over Sh50 million while the Airtel account had netted Sh199, 000 at the time. The balance at the KCB emergency number 11 33 33 33 38 as at close of business on Friday stood at Sh2.5 million.
Other corporate organizations that have joined the initiative are audit firm Deloitte who will be the official auditors of the fund and retain chain Nakumatt who have launched donation tills at its 29-branches across the country.
According to UN agencies, Kenya is currently facing its worst drought in six decades, with over 3.5 million Kenyans, mainly in northern Kenya are staring at imminent starvation and death. The situation has been exacerbated by runaway inflation, a poor maize crop for the current season and a ballooning refugee crisis in ever unstable Somalia, Kenya’s northern neighbor.
On Friday, the World Bank made available $140 million (Sh12.7billion) to go into addressing the current drought crisis.
World Bank Country Director Johannes Zutt said on Friday that this was part of a $686 million (Sh62.4 billion) grant the financial institution would give to Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti which are most affected by the current drought in the Horn of Africa.
During the flag off, organizers have called on Kenyans across the country to dress in colours of the national flag as a show of solidarity with the affected families in Northern Kenya.
The flag-off at Uhuru Park will be preceded by a prayer session presided over by Christian clergy and Muslim clerics. Members of the public have been urged to attend the flag-off in large numbers.
“This is an initiative owned by Kenyans and that is why we expect them to come to Uhuru Park in large numbers, dressed in the national colours to release the food themselves. The response from Kenyans has so far been amazing,” Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet said.