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Food relief program delivers hope in Kenya

People in Marsabit County, Kenya receive one of four emergency food relief distributions. CWS photo.

November 14, 2022

By Janice Biehn

In late June, the Humanitarian Coalition – comprising 12 leading aid agencies in Canada – launched an appeal to respond to the hunger emergency unfolding around the world, including in many sub-Saharan African countries. The goal was to raise funds to provide assistance to people on the edge of famine.

The Canadian Government matched donations to the Humanitarian Coalition and its members, up to $5 million. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a member of the HC. PWRDF, as a member of the Foodgrains Bank, was therefore eligible to participate in the matching program. Donors quickly responded, giving $99,651 during the matching period.

PWRDF was selected by HC and the Foodgrains Bank to oversee one of the resulting projects. With a total budget of $1,392,560, we are working with Church World Service Kenya to deliver a food assistance project in North Horr Sub-County, Marsabit County, Kenya. The funds include a contribution of designated equity by other members and a General Account match. This is on the heels of a similar project in 2021 that was implemented in Tana River County targeting 3,000 households. 

Marsabit is one of the worst affected counties to be hit by the current drought facing the Horn of Africa. It is estimated that close to 95% of the population is experiencing food insecurity, with 30% of the population facing emergency food insecurity levels.

Working with community advisory committees, CWS Kenya has begun to provide four in-kind food transfers to 4,000 of the most vulnerable households (an estimated 22,000 individuals) in Turbi and Maikona ward. Two distributions have already taken place.

Each household will receive a monthly ration of:

  • 50 kg maize flour
  • 10 kg beans
  • 3 L vegetable oil
  • 500 g of salt
  • 5 kg of corn soy blend (CSB) to 1,764 of the selected households with pregnant and lactating women and children under five years of age to prevent acute malnutrition. 

The CSB is critical to prevent malnutrition, says Mary Obiero, Director of CWS Kenya, during a Zoom webinar about the project.

In a video shared during the webinar, Nashangai Kongoman said some of her neighbour’s children nearly died from starvation. “They were terribly malnourished. … Now that we have received the food rations we will use them sparingly until we get another donation.”

The first food distribution happened in September and families report relief and gratitude upon receiving the food. Kongoman allows the videographer into her home as she returns from the food distribution centre and prepares a pot of cornmeal for her children. She adds vegetable oil to the water for additional sustenance, and carefully tips the flour into the pot. After a few minutes of stirring, Kongoman serves the ugali to her hungry children.

Obiero notes the creativity and generosity of people like Kongoman, who don’t hesitate to share what resources they have. “But the situation is getting worse as we move forward.”

World Food Programme stats:

  • 50 million people worldwide are facing emergency levels of hunger.
  • The number of severely food insecure people has more than doubled in the last two years.
  • Extended drought and other climate shocks are wreaking havoc on food supplies and livelihoods.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had severe economic consequences in many countries.
  • The conflict in Ukraine is having a direct impact on access to basic food supplies.

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For media requests please contact Communications Coordinator Janice Biehn at (416) 924-9199;366.

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