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Kenya launches food subsidy

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – Kenya has launched a Sh600 million meal voucher project that seeks to feed 100,000 poor people in Nairobi.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said each of the targeted families will receive a Sh1,500 monthly food subsidy through mobile phone transfer or electronic card system.

Mr Odinga said the project will run as a pilot in Nairobi for nine months after which it will be rolled out to other urban centres in the country.

“A comprehensive information management system has been put in place to assess the efficiency of the programme and provide the necessary checks and balances for the effective implementation of the programme,” he said.

He was speaking after receiving the interim report of the taskforce on the development of a comprehensive well targeted food scheme in Kenya.

The task force was formed in February this year following the approval of the Cabinet. Its objectives were to review, evaluate and critically analyse current subsidy arrangements with a view to developing a comprehensive food scheme for Kenya.

“Careful consideration has been made by the taskforce to ensure that it is cost effective,” he added. “Of the total cost of the piloting programme (Sh600 million) only ten percent will go towards administrative cost while the balance 90 percent will go directly into supporting the real needy people.”

Over the past five months, the taskforce has prepared a report on the efficiency of the current targeted subsidy schemes which includes school feeding programmes, cash transfers to orphans and vulnerable children and the emergency food relief programme in addressing food security in Kenya.

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It further designed a programme for assisting vulnerable people dubbed ‘Saidia Jamii’ whose main aim is to protect vulnerable and poor households in urban and rural areas.

The taskforce also recommended that the ‘Saidia Jamii’ programme be implemented by the Ministry of Gender in partnership with the World Food Programme and British charity Oxfam.
Food insecurity has heightened in most areas classified as highly and extremely food insecure as drought conditions persist. Livestock mortality has increased as grazing resources, especially water availability, have markedly declined.

The expectation of heavier than normal rains, due to El Niño could result in significant pre and post harvest losses in the grain basket during the October to December rainfall season since dry conditions are required during harvesting.

However, it is expected that the El Niño rains will provide substantial benefits for the drought affected pastoral and marginal agricultural farm households, especially toward the end of the year.

This will in turn translate into increased food security in the country and thus subsidise efforts by the government to reduce poverty.

An estimated 3.8 million people are considered to be experiencing food insecurity in the country.


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