Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Another failed harvest in Kenya

For the third year in a row the harvest has failed in Kenya. Aid agencies are asking for emergency money and food for the country to prevent a massive starvation. The long drought in the nation means that 3.2 million people will need food aid and $135 million dollars will be needed to feed them.

From this Associated Press article that we found in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Katharine Houreld fills us in on the conditions in Kenya.

In southeastern Kenya, which has been worst affected by the drought, widespread hunger has not yet fully begun to bite.

But farmers' stores, which should be bursting with a new harvest, are as empty as their pockets. Local television has screened pictures of families boiling underripe wild fruit to soften it enough to eat and living off of roots they would normally feed to livestock.

Aid workers say the situation will worsen in coming months.

The government, wracked by scandals in its oil, tourism and cereals boards, has appealed for international aid. But there is growing anger among Kenyans over official corruption and politicians' cushy lives - the government's annual entertainment budget tops $32 million.

The World Food Program says the only solution is to fund long-term projects to help farmers resist poor harvests, like breeding drought resistant seeds or funding irrigation projects.

"These are the programs that can make a real difference for the future and prevent crises like this one," said Menezes.

But most donors preferred to fund emergency response programs that will make the evening news, she said.

Kenya can expect little help from east African neighbors, which are also facing hunger crises.

Another drought on the Horn of Africa has hit food supplies there. Uganda does not have enough food to export and Tanzania has had to put export restrictions in place.

Even donor countries are affected, with pressure on governments to fund programs in their own recession-hit countries rather than send scarce resources abroad.

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