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Oct28FriKenyan drought situation remains fragile October 28, 2011 by Captain Peter White, international emergency services, Turkana, Kenya West
Turkana, in North West Kenya, remains the major focal point for The Salvation Army Kenya West Territory's drought response activities. Short-term relief programmes are being delivered for struggling communities suffering the direct effects of the drought.
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A Salvation Army International Emergency Services (IES) team has been working in the area for a month. The situation remains fragile as communities wait for the anticipated seasonal November rains in the hope that they will begin to replenish the dwindling water table.
Water continues to be delivered to primary schools and outlying village communities around Lodwar, and the community of Lokitaung, which is around 200 km north, close to the Ethiopian border. The water deliveries are providing much needed relief for communities that are considered vulnerable to the effects of the drought. Discussions with other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government agencies have been held regarding the water table level.
The Salvation Army is assisting one school to drill a much-needed borehole in an area where neither the school, nor the local community have adequate access to regular water supply. The borehole is almost completed with the water tank stand already built.
The Food for Fees project remains the main focal point for the IES team. With the excellent assistance of personnel from the local department of education, the team has contacted all 19 secondary schools in the Turkana area.
This valuable project enables students, who are often required to board far from home, continuing access to secondary school education and is an effective investment for the future of Kenya.
The team is also actively involved in local committees partnering with other NGOs and government departments to assess the likely scenario for 2012.
Kenya East Territory Launches Famine Relief Programme to Deal With Ongoing Crisis
Update October 19 by Marion Ndeta
The Salvation Army's Kenya East Territory has begun a three-month famine relief programme in Isiolo District, at a cost of 13.5 million Kenyan shillings (US$136,000). The territory is partnering with The Salvation Army's International Emergency Services to provide assistance.
In the first phase of the exercise 5,000 people were given enough food to last a month. Identified families received a 50-kilogram bag of maize and three litres of cooking oil. The Salvation Army team is trying to source beans that can be added to future packages.
Distribution took place at eight different centres across the Isiolo East and Central government divisions. The aid was focused on the most vulnerable people, including the elderly, nursing mothers and people with disabilities.
Hundreds of locals thronged the distribution points, braving the heat of the day for hours as the distribution team worked hard to get the set portions to the identified distribution points. The officers, local officers and Salvationists participating in the exercise put in every effort to ensure that the process went smoothly.
The beneficiaries were delighted with the assistance, with some saying it was the first time they had received such amounts of food. 'We usually receive maize that only lasts a couple of days,' said one.
Clouds of dust from the wasted land filled the air as people took away their food. Donkeys, human backs, bicycles, motorcycles were all used. Boda-boda (public transport motorcyclists) operators touted for business around the distribution areas in the hope of being hired by beneficiaries to take their food home.
The Salvation Army's intervention comes in the wake of a hard-hitting drought that has left the Horn of Africa suffering severe famine. The situation has been declared a national disaster in Kenya, with environmental specialists stating that this is the worst drought to hit the region in 60 years.
Funding is in place for the current project but further funds are being sought to deal with the ongoing crisis.
Army Responds as East Africa Drought Continues
Update September 29
The Salvation Army's two Kenya territories are pushing on with their drought relief activities. Both territories continue to monitor the situation, constantly looking for relevant, innovative ways of responding to the drought crisis.
The Kenya West Territory is concentrating its efforts on Turkana, a desert area in the north, where access to water is the biggest problem. In the previous major drought during 2006 The Salvation Army bought tractors and bowsers (mobile water containers). These are being fully utilised during the current drought transporting water to more than 20 remote areas. Around 2,500 families and nine schools are benefiting from weekly water deliveries.
This is obviously not a permanent solution but there are plans to drill boreholes, ideally linked to solar-powered pumps – there is definitely no lack of sun in Turkana! The first borehole project is under way and the hydrological survey has started. The borehole will be located in a school and benefit the surrounding community as well as the 500 schoolchildren.
A 'food for fees' programme is being put in place. In Kenya parents usually have to pay school fees in order for their children to attend secondary schools. The fees cover food, water, materials and transport. In Turkana many families – often pastoralists whose small flocks of sheep or goats have died because of the drought – have no money for food, let alone school fees.
The Salvation Army's project will provide all 17 secondary and high schools in Turkana with food, benefiting a total of 5,886 children. There is an agreement with the schools that in exchange for food, school fees will be waived for the coming term. This will benefit the school, which can concentrate its resources on teaching materials, as well as the children, who will be able to continue their schooling and know they will get at least one good meal a day.
Meetings have taken place with the Ministry of Water, the Ministry of Education, Oxfam, World Vision, the Kenyan Red Cross, the World Food Programme (WFP) and other helping groups. Elizabeth Nabutola, the Head of WFP's Turkana Office says: 'No one is targeting secondary schools. The Salvation Army would really fill a gap.'
An international Salvation Army emergency response team is now in Turkana and others will be sent in support of the territory during the coming months.
In The Salvation Army's Kenya East Territory, following a thorough assessment, the initial response will be to help drought-affected people around the town of Isiolo. One of the projects being undertaken is emergency food provision to 5,000 people for the next three months. Funding is being provided by The Salvation Army's Hong Kong and Macau Command.
The second major project now under way concerns the alleviation of hunger among primary school children in and around Machakos. More than 3,500 children in 16 primary schools will be provided with a lunchtime meal during the next two school terms to ensure they survive this very difficult time.
Funding is in place for the current projects but the drought is likely to get worse over the coming months, with the amount of money available directly limiting the number of people who can be helped.