Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hunger fund target raised to Sh1 billion

William Oeri | Nation A section of the crowd at Uhuru Park on August 06, 2011 during the flagging-off ceremony of trucks loaded with 150 tonnes of food headed for Wajir, Mandera and Garissa.

William Oeri | Nation A section of the crowd at Uhuru Park on August 06, 2011 during the flagging-off ceremony of trucks loaded with 150 tonnes of food headed for Wajir, Mandera and Garissa. 

By LILLIAN ONYANGO laonyango@ke.nationmedia.com

Corporates and people behind Kenyans for Kenya in the fight against famine has now been raised to Sh1 billion, riding on the good will of everyone who raised half a billion shillings in a fortnight.

Launched by Safaricom, Kenya Commercial Bank and the Media Owners Association, the plan was to raise Sh500 million to feed 3.5 million Kenyans facing food shortage. That goal was reached on Friday.

“If the same tempo that has been seen in the last two weeks is maintained, we can achieve this new target,” KCB’s chief executive officer, Mr Martin Oduor-Otieno, said on Saturday.

He was speaking when he flagged off the second batch of 150 tonnes of food at Uhuru Park, Nairobi. The food was taken to northern Kenya.

Mr Oduor-Otieno added that from the response he had received on the social networking site Twitter, many were still keen to donate.

And while thanking corporates for boosting the fund to the tune of Sh301,368,880 in cash and pledges and Sh53.4 million in kind, he said long-term solutions to drought and hunger in northern Kenya need to be put in place.

“Corporate Kenya will be looking into long-term sustainability programmes so that we do not have these year-in, year-out fundraisings,” he said.

Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary-General Abbas Gullet said the second batch of food would be delivered to the people of Wajir, Mandera and Garissa, with each region receiving 50 tonnes of food.

“This is food specially meant for expectant mothers, the elderly and children who are in dire need of the special diet that will nurse them back to health,” he said.

He added that the supplementary diet would be distributed through schools – which will remain open during the August holidays – and government feeding programmes.

On Thursday, government spokesman Alfred Mutua said schools in the affected areas will act as soup kitchens and logistics centres to facilitate distribution. He confirmed the ministry of Education had received Sh400 million for emergency school feeding programmes from the government’s Sh2 billion drought response fund.

And on Friday, Mr Gullet said Deloitte and Touche would audit the accounts and ensure the money donated is used properly.

The first batch of 150 tonnes of food was flagged off to Turkana last Sunday. It contained Unimix, a highly nutritious blend of maize, beans and sugar that will feed 21,000 people for up to 6 months.

“After yesterday (Friday) we should be proud, walk tall and speak with confidence,” Mr Gullet said. “It proved that Kenyans from all corners are full of love.”

Nine-year-old Rose Nasimiyu, a cancer victim, also attended the Uhuru Park ceremony on Saturday.

“I am thankful for the support Kenyans have given me and for the love they have shown the people in the drought-stricken areas,” she said.

Ms Nasimiyu, who was given the title Miss Hope last week during the ceremony that saw the crowing of Miss Kenya, said her heart went out to the children in the affected areas.

“I’d like to encourage them that they can live to see another day,” she said.

And she chided the political elite. “It is embarrassing to see them talk politics while people go hungry. Who will vote for you if we all die of hunger and disease?” she asked.

Ms Nasimiyu, who suffers from Hodgkins lymphoma, also announced that she will be launching the Rose Nasimiyu Cancer Foundation for Children, which will focus on helping children 12 and below who are suffering from the disease.

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