The Salvation Army’s Kenya East Territory has begun a three-month famine relief program in Isiolo District, at a cost of 13.5 million Kenyan shillings (US$136,000). The territory is partnering with The Salvation Army’s International Emergency Services to provide assistance.
In the first phase of the exercise 5,000 people were given enough food to last a month. Identified families received a 50-kilogramme bag of maize and three litres of cooking oil. The Salvation Army team is trying to source beans which can be added to future packages. Distribution took place at eight different centres across the Isiolo East and Central government divisions. The aid was focused on the most vulnerable people, including the elderly, nursing mothers and people with disabilities.
Hundreds of locals thronged the distribution points, braving the heat of the day for hours as the distribution team worked hard to get the set portions to the identified distribution points. The officers/pastors and Salvation Army members participating in the exercise put in every effort to ensure that the process went smoothly.
The beneficiaries were delighted with the assistance, with some saying it was the first time they had received such amounts of food. ‘We usually receive maize that only lasts a couple of days,’ said one.
Clouds of dust from the wasted land filled the air as people took away their food. Donkeys, human backs, bicycles, motorcycles were all used. Boda-boda (public transport motorcyclists) operators touted for business around the distribution areas in the hope of being hired by beneficiaries to take their food home.
The Salvation Army’s intervention comes in the wake of a hard-hitting drought that has left the Horn of Africa suffering severe famine. The situation has been declared a national disaster in Kenya, with environmental specialists stating that this is the worst drought to hit the region in 60 years.
Funding is in place for the current project but further funds are being sought to deal with the ongoing crisis.