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Salvation Army provides water to drought-hit communities in Kenya

Kenya East Territory Launches Famine Relief Programme

Updated 19 October 2011

The Salvation Army's Kenya East Territory has begun a three-month famine relief programme 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, local officers and Salvationists 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.

22nd July 2011

As the drought crisis in East Africa causes worldwide concern, The Salvation Army is responding to the situation using its local knowledge and personnel to provide immediate relief. There is currently no Salvation Army work in Somalia or Ethiopia so the focus for now is on northern Kenya.

Assessments carried out by The Salvation Army and government sources have shown that the nomadic people of the Turkana region of northern Kenya face widespread starvation. Three rainfall seasons have failed, livestock has died, milk production has dropped and food stocks are depleted.

Water is scarce, with people in the region having to travel on average more than three kilometres to access water. Schools are closing because they lack funds to pay food and water bills.

The Salvation Army is initially addressing the water situation, using water tanks (known as bowsers) pulled by tractors. The tractors and bowsers were bought in 2005 as part of a previous International Emergency Services project. Water will be collected from boreholes and large water tanks on Salvation Army properties and taken to communities and schools in Turkana.

Funding of almost $50,000 provided through The Salvation Army's international headquarters in London will cover fuel and maintenance costs for two tractors for six months, as well as paying staff costs for drivers and assistants. Some of the funds will improve storage facilities of schools and villages. The project's implementation follows consultation with the Kenyan Government, local officials, the Red Cross and Oxfam.

The scheme will provide around 5,000 villagers and 2,000 schoolchildren with clean, safe water. This will have further benefits of decreasing the distance travelled to fetch water and reducing the risk of women being abused as they seek water in isolated locations.

The Salvation Army in Kenya are continuing to monitor the situation in the north of the country.