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UN and Kenya sign deal to support a national drought response

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Kenya on Wednesday signed a Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) agreement that will provide immediate assistance for drought affected pastoral and agro pastoral households in the country.

FAO Representative in Kenya Gabriel Rugalema told journalists in Nairobi that under the deal approximately 2,000 smallholder agropastoralists’ households will receive emergency support that will improve their access to water.

"We plan to install 30 community water tanks in the northern counties of Isiolo and Marsabit to enable 10,000 livestock breeding stock to receive vital water supplies," Rugalema said.

In addition, FAO will deliver 294.2 tonnes of animal feed and 196 tonnes of high-fibre ranch cubes to 545 smallholder pastoralist and agropastoralist households in the drought affected Marsabit, Kwale and Isiolo counties.

"These counties will benefit from emergency distribution of bales of hay and high fibre ranch cubes to feed up to a total of 65,450 animal breeding stock for two months until pasture are fully regenerated in June," the FAO Representative said.

On Feb 10, Kenya declared the ongoing drought a national disaster with approximately three million people affected.

The northern and coastal areas of Kenya are currently facing widespread drought due to the poor performance of the October-December 2016 short rains which followed an already long dry season and erratic, below-average main season long rains in march-May 2016.

Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Willy Bett said that the government has set aside 263 million U.S. dollars to respond to the humanitarian needs in drought-affected areas.

"The three-phase plan has committed 159 million dollars for phases one and two. Of this, 30.6 million dollars is dedicated to livestock response," Bett said.

In addition, the government has paid out insurance to 11,000 households, totaling two million dollars.

The CS noted that despite this considerable commitment, the ministry of agriculture livestock estimates there is still a gap of 126 million dollars owing to rising needs in the livestock sector.


United Nations to launch food appeal for Kenya

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The United Nations  will on Thursday launch an international food appeal to alleviate hunger in Kenya.

The World Food Programme (WFP) Representative in Kenya Annalisa Conte told Xinhua in Nairobi that the appeal is necessary after Kenya declared the current drought as a national disaster.

"Kenya government has pointed out that despite allocating resources to combat the ongoing drought there is still a gap in funding that partners can help to fill," Conte said on the sidelines of the Strengthening Smallholder Farmers Production forum.

The day-long event brought policy makers, private sector and non-governmental organizations to review ways to improve small scale farmers’ incomes.

The UN’s food appeal will include a detailed plan for a multilateral response to the drought.

"It will present the different activities and roles that each UN entity in Kenya will play in order to mitigate the effects of the drought," Conte said.

According to government data, more than 3 million people in Kenya are currently affected by the drought.

The drought has been caused by poor rainfall in 2016 and has affected 23 arid and semi-arid counties in the country.

The UN food agency is also involved in improving food security in Kenya.

WFP is currently providing funding for school meals for 500,000 school children.

Conte said that it will handover its school feeding programme to Kenya in 2019.

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