By Christine Lagat
MAKUENI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan farmer
Zipporah Muema was in buoyant mood on Sunday afternoon as she
carted away packets of maize flour, cooking oil and sparkling
bottled water donated by Chinese firms.
from Kenya’s semi-arid Makueni County defied advanced age and
scorching heat to walk briskly to her humble abode and prepare
an otherwise elusive meal as drought ravages her surroundings.
Muema was among hundreds of vulnerable residents of Makueni
County who benefited from foodstuff donated by Chinese
enterprises operating in Kenya.
Speaking to Xinhua after receiving her ration, Muema lauded
the benevolence of Chinese firms and urged them to extend
assistance to her elderly peers reeling from hunger.
"This is a happy moment for me having received food donation
from the Chinese.
"I wish the Chinese companies would continue helping those in
dire situation," said Muema.
The jovial matriarch was born and bred in a locality infamous
for recurrent droughts and abject poverty.
Based on her grandson’s account, Muema is lucky to have
clocked 83 years, having survived a spate of severe droughts
since her childhood.
"My grandmother has outstanding resilience and can still work
in the farm and trek long distances despite old age.
"She has witnessed countless famines in this region but has
outlived them," said Zipporah’s 51-year-old grandson Daudi Muema.
Daudi too hailed generosity demonstrated by Chinese firms to
drought victims in his locality, terming it a welcome respite to
hunger pangs blighting vulnerable people including his
"We had 90 percent crop failure in the last two seasons due
to below average rains.
"Many people can hardly afford a decent meal but the food
donation by Chinese firms came at the opportune moment," Daudi
The mood at a school sports stadium in Makueni County where
Chinese companies donated 30 tonnes of maize flour, cooking oil,
fruit juices and bottled water was ebullient as the young and
old queued for their ration.
Mutulu Kithuka, a 69-year-old farmer, beamed with joy after
receiving his food ration and a thermos flask that came in handy
to assist him in preserving tea and porridge.
"I’m happy to receive food donation and appeal to the Chinese
people to visit us regularly until the drought season is over,"
said Kithuka, adding that a prolonged dry spell has worsened
hunger in his extended family.
The food donation from Chinese firms resonated powerfully
with drought-hit residents of Makueni County. Local
administrators had earlier mobilized the most vulnerable
households to turn up and receive their share.
Fred Kibathi, a 67-year-old small-scale farmer and father of
seven, waited patiently for his turn.
He was optimistic the food ration will sustain an otherwise
large family for several days.
"It is an honor for my community to receive food donation
from the Chinese businesses and we hope the gesture will
replicate in other parts of the county affected by drought,"
He revealed that total crop failure in the last two seasons
almost threw his entire household into destitution but was
optimistic the forthcoming March/ April rain season will reverse
the bleak situation.
"This year’s drought is extremely severe compared to previous
"We are hardworking farmers but extreme weather events have
always stood in our way," Kibathi said.
Residents of Makueni County cheered the surprise gesture by
Chinese companies that will go a long way in alleviating their
suffering amid acute drought.
Mary Nyamai, a middle-aged mother of three and a trader, said
food donation from Chinese firms is welcome in a region where
children were going to bed on empty stomach due to severe
"It is prudent for Chinese firms to make regular visits here
and lend assistance where it is needed most. But we also require
long-term assistance from the Chinese like technology to carry
out irrigated farming," Nyamai told Xinhua.
She added that capacity building for farmers, irrigation and
hybrid crops would offer sustainable solution to food insecurity
in the Makueni County.
Her sentiments were shared by Christine Ndunge, a middle-aged
mother of two, who said that Chinese enterprises could share
knowledge and expertise critical to transform small-scale
farming in Kenya amid threats posed by harsh weather patterns.
"Relief food from Chinese companies is welcome here in
Makueni as we grapple with a very acute drought, but we urge
them to assist us with skills and technology required to produce
food irrespective of changing weather patterns," Ndunge said.