Australia assists Kenya with drought relief

MEDIA RELEASE - Australian Agency for International Development

MEDIA ADVISORY AA-00-002 14 February, 2000

Australia will provide support for emergency food aid for Kenyan farmers affected by drought in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

Food security is an issue year-round in Kenya and the country has been hit by recurrent droughts since the severe drought of 1991-92. Farmers have not been able to produce enough crops to see them through the current drought and their animals are too weak to search for water, or to be sold to buy food. Families in the Rift Valley, North Eastern, Eastern and Coast regions are the worst affected, with women, children and the elderly among the most vulnerable groups.

Australia will assist farmers in Northern Kenya through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The WFP emergency operation aims to help over 2 million people by providing food aid in the worst affected districts of Kenya from February to June.

The Government of Kenya has made a considerable effort to avoid an acute famine in areas affected by the drought. It provided 12,000 tons of maize to cover the initial requirements in the affected areas and has also made available funds to purchase another 15,500 tons. This effort has stretched the national budget and it would be extremely difficult for the Government of Kenya to sustain this effort alone.

Over the past decade, drought has forced many farmers to look for work in urban areas, abandoning their livestock and farms. The number of destitute families migrating to the urban centres has grown steadily in recent years.

Australia will provide $300,000 through the government's overseas aid program. Since 1993, Australia has provided $5.3 million to Kenya for emergency and food aid.

Media Contacts: Innes Willox (Minister's Office) 02 6277 7500/0419 206 890
Fionna Douglas (AusAID) 02 6206 4960