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Kenya to get Sh500m for drought in arid areas

Friday June 7 2019

Turkana drought

An abandoned homestead at Kalapata in Turkana County, where a prolonged drought has left residents facing starvation, March 23, 2019. PHORO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KEVIN J. KELLEY
By KEVIN J. KELLEY
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The United Nations will give Kenya Sh500 million to respond to persistent drought caused by “climatic shocks”.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mr Mark Lowcock said the funds would complement the Kenyan government's hunger safety-net programme for arid areas.

Somalia, where the UN has warned of a looming famine, will receive Sh3 billion ($30m).

Ethiopia will get Sh1 billion ($10m) to help ensure adequate food supplies for a drought-ravaged region bordering Somalia.

The UN refugee agency has, meanwhile, warned that “severe climatic conditions combined with armed conflict and protracted displacement” could force Somalia into a major humanitarian emergency.

“Decades of climatic shocks and conflict have left more than 2.6 million people internally displaced in Somalia today,” the refugee agency said on Tuesday.

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FAMINE

Drought in Somalia has intensified more rapidly than has been seen over the past decade, which was unusually dry, Mr Lowcock noted.

“What was forecast to be an average rainy season in Somalia is now one of the driest on record in over 35 years,” he said.

More than two million Somalis could experience “acute food insecurity” by September, Mr Lowcock told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

When famine struck Somalia in 2010-2012, it took an estimated 500,000 lives, with half the victims believed to be under the age five.

Mr Lowcock appealed for a rapid scale-up in aid from donor governments and NGOs to prevent “horror” from again descending on Somalia.

But it is not clear whether responses will prove adequate and timely.

Somalia’s overall Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019, requiring $1.08 billion, is only 22 per cent funded, Mr Lowcock pointed out. The Somalia Humanitarian Fund is currently depleted, he added.