Hunger in the news

15 March 2009

Kenya is set to get Sh400 million ($5 million) from a new fund approved by Japanese Parliament to help feed the hungry in 21 countries. The country’s share is part of $124.2 million (Sh9.93 billion) Japan has donated through United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to help alleviate high food prices in 19 African countries and Afghanistan Pakistan. WFP’s Japan Relations Office Director Mohamed Saleheen said the aid package proved Japan’s leadership in addressing the global food crisis. "Despite a sharp decline in international cereal prices, those in many developing countries are still very high, above the 2005 and 2007 levels," he said.

14 March 2009

A consignment of maize from the United States intended to feed Kenyans facing starvation almost did not make it into the country because of a diplomatic dispute between the Kenyan and American governments. The Sunday Nation has learnt that before US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger received the maize worth Sh780 million in Mombasa on Friday, there had been a lot of communication between the Kenyan and US governments after a Kenyan official stood in the way of clearing the food. [...] In January, President Kibaki launched an appeal to the international community to supply Sh37 billion of relief food. Several Western diplomats responded by expressing concern over what they viewed as the government’s failure to stem corruption. Britain has offered relief food to Kenya but will deliver it through the World Food Programme not the government.

12 March 2009

The British government has pledged an additional Sh608 million for hunger[in Kenya], targeting more than 200,000 people. The British Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander, who is in the country, said the funding from the Department for International Development to the World Food Programme (WFP) for fighting starvation was their commitment to assist in the strife. "The funding will ensure that those most in need are targeted," Mr Alexander said.

12 March 2009

The recent shooting of two prominent Kenyan human-rights campaigners in broad daylight in Nairobi, the country’s capital, has darkened the national mood just when Kenya’s fragile coalition government is showing signs of stress and the global recession is beginning to batter the economy anew. [...] The rising cost of food, soaring unemployment and the grimness of life in the huge slums abutting central Nairobi may open up space for a potent new movement that could cut across ethnic lines. “A thousand death squads won’t deal with all these angry young men,” says a local observer. [...] Some 4m Kenyans now rely on food aid. The number in absolute poverty is up. So is unemployment.

11 March 2009

The British government has announced 5.5 million pounds (about 7.5 million U.S. dollars) from its development agency, DFID, to fight starvation in Kenya. A statement from the British High Commission in Kenya said visiting British Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander said the funds will be channeled through the World Food Program (WFP). During his visit to Nairobi's Mathare slums on Wednesday, Alexander outlined the Britain's commitment to addressing the most urgent humanitarian needs in Kenya. He noted that the new funding to WFP will ensure that those Kenyans most in need are targeted.

2 March 2009

Donors are putting pressure on President Kibaki to deal firmly with corruption and mismanagement in his government before they give additional food aid. The Sunday Nation has established that no key donor has contributed to the government’s Sh32 billion famine fund, as they are apparently waiting for firm action on graft in government. The donors are instead channelling aid to starving Kenyans through the World Food Programme (WFP).

2 March 2009

One year after this country exploded in ethnic bloodshed, trouble is brewing here again. Ten million people face starvation, partly because farmers in crucial food-producing areas who fled their homes last year have not returned, instead withdrawing deeper into their ethnic enclaves, deeper into fear. At the same time, public confidence in the Kenyan government is plummeting. Top politicians have been implicated in an endless string of scandals involving tourism, fuel, guns and corn.

21 February 2009

Kenya and Turkey have signed a raft of protocols aimed at increasing cooperation and bilateral trade between the two countries. The protocols also will address the trade imbalance between the two countries that is in favor of Turkey and whose volume currently stands at 250 million U.S. dollars. [...] Noting that Kenya's position in the region was pivotal, President Gul observed that other than being a hub and an entry point to the region, the country hosted the biggest UN office outside New York. The Turkish leader announced a donation of one million dollars through the World Food Programme towards Kenya's famine relief efforts.

19 February 2009

Food shortages in the arid Turkana region of north-western Kenya, where an increasing number of people are already unable to find enough to eat, could escalate if rains fail in March, an official warned. [...] Peter Smerdon, spokesman for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said the Kenyan government, UN agencies and NGOs were conducting assessments following the October-December short rains to determine the numbers in need in Turkana and other districts. "We expect preliminary results from areas hit by the failure of the short rains, which include Turkana, to be released later this month and the final report in March," he told IRIN on 17 February. "WFP will adjust the numbers of people it feeds in Kenya accordingly."

18 February 2009

A virulent new version of a deadly fungus is ravaging wheat in Kenya's most fertile fields and spreading beyond Africa to threaten one of the world's principal food crops, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. Stem rust, a killer that farmers thought they had defeated 50 years ago, surfaced here in 1999, jumped the Red Sea to Yemen in 2006 and turned up in Iran last year. Crop scientists say they are powerless to stop its spread and increasingly frustrated in their efforts to find resistant plants. [...] Coming on the heels of grain scarcity and food riots last year, the budding epidemic exposes the fragility of the food supply in poor countries. It is also a reminder of how vulnerable the ever-growing global population is to the pathogens that inevitably surface somewhere on the planet.