Friday, August 07, 2009

Drought Worsens Food Insecurity in Eastern Kenya

Doctor Angelo Tomedi, founder of the Albuquerque-based organization Global Health Partnerships (GHP), had seen some evidence of hunger during his recent trips to the mostly rural area, where he helped set up a clinic.

So with more than 50% of Kenya's population living in extreme poverty (and most of this manifested in rural areas), it wasn't uncommon to see signs of food insecurity, especially malnutrition.

But Dr. Tomedi noticed something different during a recent trip to the region this year. The situation appears to be much more desperate.

I recently returned from a visit to our GHP project in Kenya. Our medical team encountered worsening child hunger and malnutrition in the part of Eastern Province where our project is located, due to a drought that has worsened the food security problem.
The food crisis appears to be affecting a wide area of East Africa. But as Lutheran World Relief notes:
Kenya is the worst hit nation, with three consecutive years without sufficient rainfall, leaving 2.5 million people without reliable sources of food—a number that is likely to rise to 2.9 million by November 2009, according to Famine Early Warning Systems network. In turn, food shortages have caused food prices to further increase— 33% over the past year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of Kenya.
Relief agencies warned about the crisis back in February.

"This is a very alarming situation," Gabrielle Menezes, a spokeswoman for the World Food Programme, said at that time. "People already hit by high food prices are struggling to feed themselves."
Conditions in Kenya are so bad that neither crops nor livestock can survive. Said the organization Global Voices:

Faced by the danger of losing their valued livestock, the Maasai, a traditional nomadic community resident in southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania, are driving their cattle into wildlife areas - and even cities - in search of pasture. This has worsened human-wildlife conflict as the weakened cows fall prey to lions and other predators.
What Can We Do? We need drought-resistant seeds
Dr. Tomedi is trying to raise funds the more immediate problem of food relief. The most immediate need is for drought-resistant seeds, to be planted in mid-October. If you would like to donate money for GHP to purchase these seeds, send your donation to:

Global Health Partnerships, Inc.
P.O. Box 4395
Albuquerque NM 87196
Be sure to mention that you would like your donation to go toward seeds for Kenya.
We are also planning a fundraiser/informational event in September (please stay tuned for details). In the meantime, if your church would like to host Dr. Tomedi as a speaker about this problem and a proposed plan of action, please contact him ( or me. Stay tuned for other opportunities to donate or participate in a fund-raising effort.

And if you would like to assist with efforts to develop longer-term strategy, please drop us a note. Said Dr. Tomedi: "We are hoping to address the problem with a food relief effort to be followed by a more long-term strategy of increased food production capacity.

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