NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 3 – The Australian government together with the World Food Programme have entered into a Sh13 billion deal that will guarantee four year financing for food programmes in Kenya and other African countries.
Deputy Country Director for the World Food Programme in Kenya Pippa Bradford explained on Tuesday that the funding would transparently identify where resources were needed the most.
“About 3.8 million people in Kenya are helped by WFP in form of food aid with over 1.3 million children getting food from the school feeding programme. The money that we have received will therefore go towards aiding the feeding programmes that we have in the country as well as other countries in and outside Africa,” she explained.
She added that Kenya had also received and disbursed Sh305 million to fight drought and feed those who were at risk of starvation.
“We got the money in September and we are already using it to aid our feeding programmes. In addition the funding from the Australian government is already here and we just need to establish a few things before we disburse it,” she stated.
She however held that it was difficult to point out the specific amount that Kenya would receive as aid.
“The allocation is still new and we do not yet know how much money Kenya will get. However the funding is significant because it is long term and spreads out from 2009 to 2013. Having it with us allows us to plan our food programme for the next five years. It is also good to remember that 2009 is almost over and we need to distribute the money immediately,” she said.
Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance Bob McMullan said the money would go into aiding those who were starving and that it was in response to humanitarian emergency.
“This money will help with planning the way forward with half of it going to this part of the African continent. The money will be used to assist needy people as well as the overall engagement in dealing with agricultural and other economic issues,” he said.
Mr McMullan also said the money would fund research initiatives aimed at improving agricultural programmes as well as enhance productivity and also towards the school feeding programmes thereby encouraging school attendance.
“Sh2.7 billion will be spent in school feeding programmes which act as an incentive for school going children to go to school. The parents will also force their children to go to school because they will get food,” he observed.
As a long term measure to curb the food shortage Mr McMullan proposed growth of drought resilient crops that would improve nutrition and enhance food security.
“We should grow better crops and rear livestock breeds that will improve production. The introduction of new rice types increased Asia’s food productivity by 50 percent. So if we did the same, our food security would also increase,” he said.