Late last week, my colleagues and I travelled to Mariakani in Kilifi County to join Safaricom, the National Steering Committee on Drought Response, and other partners in a food distribution drive held at at Mariakani Secondary School. This was the third such drive in Kilifi County under Wakenya Tulindane, with the earlier ones being in Bamba and Adu.
Like many other counties around the country, Kilifi is hard hit by the ongoing drought occasioned by failed and insufficient rains. We are looking at four consecutive failed seasons, late onset or poor distribution of rains, and possibly more of this in the coming seasons. This has left over 6 million Kenyans exposed to hunger, acute malnutrition and even death for them and their livestock. It has also clearly highlighted the need for Government, Private sector and individual Kenyans to come together for our own, not just with immediate humanitarian measures but medium and long term too.
For a county like Kilifi, parts of which are already classified as arid and semi-arid, the effects of the drought are even more pronounced especially coupled with high poverty rates. Many families are going to bed hungry, children are missing school because there is no food at home, and those near urban areas are eating contaminated food from dumpsites. This is just one county. There are still 22 more earmarked as alarm areas that need urgent intervention, and help is either there already or on the way in the coming weeks.
So far, Wakenya Tulindane has reached around 53,000 households through the country and is well on track to get to the projected goal of 160,000 in the next few months. Last week’s drive in Mariakani for instance saw 1,500 families benefit from food packages to last a month, each of which contained maize flour, uji flour, rice, cooking oil and legumes. Wakenya Tulindane is still an ongoing call for more corporates to come on board.
The National Steering Committee on Drought Response was formed by the President last year, with the rallying call for Kenyans to come through for one another even as Government and private sector led the way. Under the stewardship of Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa as chairman, the committee hit the ground running and has so far raised over 1 billion Kenya Shillings. This money is primarily for immediate relief through food distribution, but the committee also has long term plans to sink boreholes around the country and to repair existing ones in partnership with KDF. Already, more than 250 boreholes have been identified to be repaired in the coming months.
The committee is also in talks for a partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service to cater for wildlife.
Another very crucial partner is the Kenya Red Cross who are on ground to facilitate and monitor food distribution. With its wide logistical networks and thorough knowledge and experience in arid and semi-arid areas.
If you would like to be part of this great project as an individual, you can donate your Bonga Points by dialing *126# and selecting option Zero.