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Food Security: Kenya spends U.S. $18.8 million dollars
on maize, beans and rice supply to ease biting drought

by Njoroge Kaburo NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya said on Wednesday it has spent 1.88 billion shillings (18.8 million U.S. dollars) to ease effects of biting drought that is affecting at least 1.1 million citizens.

Eugene Wamalwa, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Devolution and ASALs, said though the country was headed for a worse situation as per the experts’ prediction over delayed rains, the government has provided the funds towards various drought mitigation interventions.

"The government has released 6 million dollars to purchase 26,200 bags of maize, 17,060 bags of beans and 15,420 bags of rice which had already been given out as relief," Wamalwa told journalists in Nairobi.

He said that another 6 million dollars had been channeled to the ministry of agriculture towards putting up water pans for household for water storage, as well as some 6.8 million dollars had been released to the water ministry towards water trucking, and rehabilitation of damaged boreholes.

This came after the World Bank said the country’s economic growth is expected to marginally ease in 2019 owing largely to jitters in agricultural productivity from the delayed onset of long-rains.

Wamalwa, however, dispelled fears that drought will result in the reduction in economic growth, saying the drought situation was worse in 2016 and 2017.

"The situation is not as worse than it was in 2017 when over 3.5 million Kenyans were badly affected compared to 1.1 million this year," he said.


African regional trade bloc calls for food safety measures to spur trade

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), an African trade bloc, on Wednesday urged member states to embrace food safety measures to improve intra-trade in the region.

Innocent Makwiramiti, COMESA’s senior private sector development officer, said failure to apply sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures will affect trade, health and food security within the 21 member states.

"We are seeking to enhance the SPS capacity of the public and private sector institutions of member states in order to gain and maintain regional and international market access for food and agricultural products," Makwiramiti told a regional forum on health standards of food commodities in Nairobi.

Makwiramiti observed that low level of food safety is among the major obstacles that may delay the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from taking off.

"Despite forming AfCFTA it is unfortunate that only about 12 percent of Africa’s trade is intra-regional, while most of the trade is with countries outside the regions," said Makwiramiti.

Makwiramiti noted that in comparison, intra-trade is almost 22 percent for South America, 40 percent for North America, 50 percent for Asia and 70 percent for Europe.

"The low intra-trade is not surprising, given the varied food standards and regulatory frameworks across member states and the low levels of compliance amongst regional small and medium enterprises," he added.

The official noted that for the success of the regional trading bloc, there is need for a collective decision by member states since regional integration has become an important subject matter in this era owing to the existing dynamic global environment and a multi-lateral regulatory system.

Makwiramiti said that COMESA has introduced evidence-based economic analysis to prioritize and integrate SPS investments in national planning, policy and investment frameworks within the member states.

"We have delivered technical support to address SPS capacity needs as well as facilitate market access in a number of countries," Makwiramiti told delegates attending a two-day meeting.

Esther Kimani, managing director of Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), noted that availing food to populations is of paramount importance since Africa’s population is considerably increasing and food security is becoming challenge.

Kimani called for an integrated regional approach to diffuse gaps in the current SPS systems, and identify prioritized risks, threats, and responses across the region.

Ethiopia seeks to rehabilitate over two million internally
displaced peoples amid food insecurity threats

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government on Wednesday disclosed ongoing efforts to sustainably rehabilitate more than 2 million internally displaced peoples (IDPs) across the East African country.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Peace, during an ongoing discussion with members of international donor community being held to leverage joint-rehabilitation efforts in the country, also appealed for up to 700 million U.S. dollars of financial assistance to fund the rehabilitation of some 2 million displaced people who were affected by conflict and natural disasters.

The Ethiopian government had recently established a national steering committee, led by the Ethiopian Ministry of Peace, to facilitate the national efforts that envisaged to sustainably rehabilitate the country’s displaced people.

The national steering committee brings together seven Ethiopian ministries together with the Ethiopian Federal Police and Attorney General’s Office, which seeks to create an enabling environment where the returnees will be rehabilitated effectively.

Appealing for close to 700 million U.S. dollars, the Ethiopian government also on Tuesday revealed the allocation of 24.6 million U.S. dollars from domestic financial sources to help rehabilitate the displaced.

Ethiopia was spared significant climate-related calamities last year, but spikes in conflict-induced displacements, which led to a near doubling of internally displaced population, contributed to high humanitarian response needs in 2019.

The latest financial appeal by the Ethiopian government came as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) last week warned of a looming food crisis in eastern Africa, where 10.7 million people are currently food insecure.

The East African bloc, IGAD, stressed that "immediate action is needed" following a foreseen high risk of worsening food insecurity in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda if forecasted rainfall deficits materialize.

United Nations refugee agency struggles to
meet needed funds for refugees in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday said it has only received 13 percent of the 346.5 million U.S. dollars it requires to meet the needs of refugees in Ethiopia.

In a press statement sent to Xinhua, UNHCR said the 346.5 million U.S. dollars funds are needed to meet the basic nutritional, educational, health, clean water, sanitation and shelter needs of refugees in Ethiopia.

The UNHCR has registered 915,073 refugees as of August 31, 2018 in Ethiopia, most of whom are housed in refugee camps in six regional states.

Ethiopia currently hosts the second largest refugee population in Africa, next to Uganda.

Refugees in Ethiopia primarily come from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, according to figures from the UNHCR.

Conflict and drought in neighboring countries continues to force people to seek refuge in Ethiopia, which has a long tradition of hosting refugees.

Ethiopia has also in recent years hosted an increasing number of Yemeni and Syrian refugees fleeing conflicts in their respective countries.

United Nations agency says drought displaces
over 137,000 Somalis in three months

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Severe drought ravaging Somalia, coupled with conflict and evictions, has displaced more than 137,000 people from their homes from January to March, the United Nations refugees agency said Thursday.

According to Protection and Return Monitoring Network, a project led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and in partnership with Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the number of people displaced has increased month by month, with 51,000 fleeing in March alone.

Kennedy Mabonga, regional program director for the NRC, said drought has been worst in Somaliland, Puntland, Mudug and Galgaduud regions.

"We are seeing a tragic trend this year, with more and more people displaced by drought and conflict in Somalia. Seeking aid to survive, families flee to urban areas, erecting makeshift shelters wherever they can," Mabonga said in a statement.

This leaves them vulnerable to evictions, adding to their already desperate situation, Mabonga said, noting that conflict continues in the Middle and Lower Shabelle regions.


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