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State, WFP sign pact on support for arid areas

Wednesday June 5 2019

 Eugene Wamalwa, relief food

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa flags off one of the trucks carrying 10,000 sacks of rice to North eastern parts of Kenya at Inland Container Depot along Mombasa Road in Nairobi on June 4, 2019. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

CECIL ODONGO
By CECIL ODONGO
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The government is seeking alternative ways to enable drought-stricken communities in arid regions to move away from dependence on relief food.

This follows the signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Devolution and the World Food Programme (WFP) in an effort to stem the recurrent reliance on aid for predictable drought cycles.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed will also help to strengthen structures to ensure accountability in humanitarian relief assistance during emergencies.

County governments will also be roped in to lead efforts of building resilient communities in the 29 arid and semi-arid (ASAL) devolved units in the country.

“It must be awkward that we resort to giving relief assistance in the face of a predictable cycle of drought and a rich information database which should help us steer ASAL communities to self- sufficiency,” said Mr Wamalwa.

The signing of the MoU was done at the ministry’s headquarters on Wednesday. Also present at the event was the Principal Secretary of ASAL Micah Powon and the National Drought Management Authority chief executive James Oduor.

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Mr Wamalwa said the ASAL region, which cumulatively is comprised of 89 percent of Kenya’s surface area and accounts for 39 percent of her population, is “the economic future of Kenya” with its beckoning prospect for  wind and solar power, tourism, livestock development, irrigated agriculture and cross-border trade.

On her part, WFP Representative in Kenya Ms Annalisa Conte said the partnership represents a new vision for the organisation’s work in the country aimed at changing people’s lives as well as make them more resilient by diversifying their livelihoods to better access quality and affordable foods.

However, the pact comes with stringent measures and obligations that must be adhered to failure to which the agreement can be terminated.

On financial management, the Ministry is expected to file monthly and quarterly returns or reports in respect of funds disbursed by WFP, in addition to regular spot checks.

There is an anti-terrorism clause, Clause 8, which says that WFP and the Ministry shall seek to ensure that none of the resources received under the Agreement, whether in cash or kind, is used directly or indirectly to support terrorist entities or individuals.

Clause 10 of the agreement also warns of termination if the Ministry does not include safeguard measures including the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation of vulnerable persons (particularly young girls and women) in ASAL areas.

“The United Nations and World Food Programme are committed to the protection of vulnerable populations in humanitarian crisis. Any failure by the Ministry of Devolution and ASAL, to take preventive measures against sexual abuse or exploitation, to investigate allegations thereof or to take corrective action, shall constitute grounds for termination of this agreement.”

Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the government and WFP have not initiated a cash transfer programme.