NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 16 – Kenya has appealed to the international community to help it cover a Sh25 billion emergency funds to assist in the intervention and mitigation of biting famine.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the government has already committed Sh21.2 billion from the existing budget to help curb the biting drought in the country but appealed to donors to inject the deficit.
Speaking during a meeting between the government and development partners on the drought emergency situation in Kenya on Tuesday, Mr Odinga stated that the government had reviewed the 2009/2010 budget to accommodate the humanitarian crisis.
“Even with this effort we are still short of Sh25 billion over the next six months period,” the Premier said.
“We have cut Sh5.4 billion from the funding requests from nine ministries simply because there is no money.”
Terming the food crisis in the country ‘grave’ Mr Odinga asked the international community to assist in financing the deficit and promised that the government was doing enough to prepare for such disasters.
“We are experiencing a 40 percent drop in bumper crops compared to the normal harvest,” he revealed.
“9.9 million Kenyans are in need of food aid and over 70 percent of water pans and rivers have dried up; water is in short supply in over 80 percent of the country.”
He promised that the Kenyan government was doing its best to curb the prevailing condition by creating short and long term plans to handle such situations.
“We are currently distributing food to about two million people in the Non-Emergency Operation areas and to about 500,000 urban-poor people,” he said.
“Other measures include provision of relief seeds worth Sh500 million to farmers, the building of 20 boreholes in Nairobi and 100 others in other parts of the country. We want to take bold measures to enhance food production and maximize water harvest including the restoration of the Mau and other water towers.”
He said that the government had put up a Disaster Prevention Plan to prepare for the onset of the El Nino rains.
“The plan will involve forecasting the needs and places of interventions in terms of basic needs and logistics,” he promised.
The Prime Minister also expressed that Kenya was currently receiving the highest amount of aid to cater for the humanitarian crisis.
“Although the disaster is yet to leave us, the Kenyan government appreciates the development partner’s effort for extending their generosity to Kenya,” he said.
World Bank Country Director Johannes Zutt said that Kenya should pursue its population policy including support to women’s reproductive health.
“Population growth in Kenya is about 3 percent per annum and it continues to increase,” Mr Zutt said.
“The burden of this rapidly increasing population growth is that it increases pressure on the country’s already fragile resources.” He asked the government to place measures to control this population increase.
Japanese ambassador to Kenya Shigeo Iwatani explained that the Japanese government had given Kenya a grant for food amounting to Sh500 million.
“Japan is also considering a relief seed programme to provide drought tolerant seeds for the expected short rains in the Eastern and Central provinces as well as other projects,” the envoy said.
“The total cost of these responses to the drought crisis intervention will amount to about Sh2.2 billion.”