Saturday, February 28, 2009

Donors withhold food aid over graft

Labourers offload maize donated by the World Food Programme  for its school feeding programme in Kilifi District.  Photo/ GEORGE KIKAMI | File

Labourers offload maize donated by the World Food Programme for its school feeding programme in Kilifi District. Photo/ GEORGE KIKAMI | File 

By DAVID OKWEMBA and DANIEL WESANGULA

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).

German ambassador Walter Lindner said donors want the government to address corruption through concrete measures.

“The President needs to identify those involved in corruption and punish them,” he said.

“It makes no sense to give donations which we cannot monitor and that will not reach the people in need.”

British High Commision spokeswoman Charley Williams said, “We need to see more transparency in the maize sector -- from corruption to economic management”.

Ms Williams said the UK Government had given £5 million (Sh600 million) to WFP for emergency food operations.

A senior Treasury official confirmed that many donors were channelling aid through WFP. The official, who did not wish to be identified by name because he is not authorised to speak to the media, told the Sunday Nation that the only money so far received was $3 million (Sh225 million) from the Chinese government.

The Food Security Group, which includes his ministry, donors, NGOs and the United Nations, is working out the modalities and the number of people affected by fthe food shortage.

The group’s final report is expected to be discussed soon, he said. But neither Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta nor Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua responded to our enquiries.

The US Embassy said it had not given any aid because it had not been provided with figures to work with.

Speaking for the European Union, Czech Republic deputy ambassador, Mr Oto Weniger, said all donors are concerned about corruption.

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