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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
United Nations agency says
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
"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.