Election fever is heating up in Kenya with more than seven people declaring their candidature for president. This general election is of particular importance to Kenyans because the country will have a new president after 24 years of President Moi at the Helm.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has predicted a recurrence of el Niño type of rainfall starting in September. WMO headquarters in Geneva indicated that the sea temperature in Pacific Ocean is warmer than normal, by about 1 degree Celcius, thereby setting the conditions for a recurrence of el ni o. However, it is likely to be weak and may not cause as much devastation the 1997 one. Kenyan Meteorological Department said short rains, which normally fall between October and December, are likely to be prolonged to February almost merging with the long rains season that starts in March.
On food security, analysts are predicting a 15 to 20 per cent shortfall of maize and a 30 per cent shortfall of beans this season due to inadequate rainfall (FEWS NET). The pastoralists are the only group that is doing well with increase in browse and pasture following last season average to above average rainfall in some parts of the country. World Food Programme emergency operation (EMOP) has wound up in most parts of the country. The districts that suffer chronic food shortages will continue to receive food aid through Food For Work programmes.
In response to the various disasters that have befallen the country in the last decade, the Kenya Government has developed a national policy on disaster. The policy is to be presented to Parliament for debate and ratification. Once adopted, it will be used to set up and strengthen community disaster preparedness and effective response. Its overall goal is to provide a basis for the development of pro-active and preventive strategic initiatives addressing disaster in the country in a more co-ordinated, coherent and consistent manner.
The policy is to be implemented through a National Disaster Management Authority under the Office of the President. The authority's role will be to provide the necessary leadership and coordination in response to any disaster affecting any part of the country. It will work through local committees made up of technical and leadership at the grassroots level.
The policy paper sets out strategies to manage the increasing incidences of slow and rapid on-set disasters in order to mitigate against loss of life, human distress and suffering, destruction of property and infrastructure as well as disruption of the environment and overall welfare of the society.
Last month, East African leaders met in Kenya to discuss possibilities of establishing a regional centre for disaster management. The meeting explored a suggestion of hosting the centre in an existing regional body such as the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and East African Community. Aids pandemic was singled out as the most important disaster facing the continent today. Kenyans want the Industrial Property Act re-amended to allow importation of generic anti-retroviral medicines (ARVs) into the country. The law was first amended on June 7, making it mandatory to seek the "express consent" of the original patent holders of the drugs before importing. (Daily Nation July 25)
The German Government has contributed 3 million Euros for Tana River flood victims through the German Red Cross. The US Government gave US$5,143,681; WFP/ Ira US$2 million; Eriteria US$17,710 and Denmark US$660,262 for EMOP
UNHCR Completes Kakuma Refugee Head Count
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has completed a head count of refugees in the Kakuma camp in Northern Kenya. The exercise reveals that the camp has a total of 67,762 refugees. The agency will be carrying out a similar exercise in Dadaab in the next three months to determine the exact number of refugees.
Firewood wrangle resolved
Meanwhile UNHCR has resolved a firewood controversy in Kakuma and Dadaab camps. Local MPs had demanded relocation of refugees to other sites claiming that the refugees had contributed to environmental degradation.
They demanded projects to improve the living standards of host communities and employment opportunities in the camps. UNHCR said almost half of its workforce in both camps was recruited from the local communities.
On environment, UNHCR has caused more than one million trees to be planted in and around the Dadaab and Kakuma camps since 1993. The agency has rehabilitated degraded areas by setting up greenbelts, afforested all areas of the camp by encouraging refugees to plant live thorn fences and fast growing trees. As a result, over 415 hectares of land has been rehabilitated around the two camps.
The Dadaab camps, for example, are greener today than they were nearly 10 yeas ago when they were established. By December 2001, UNHCR had spent more than $3.5 million on environmental activities in both camps.
Bantu Somalis translocation
Translocation of Somali refugees from a temporary camp near Mandera border town to Dadaab is almost complete. The agency transferred 2,989 Somalis out of about 10,000 refugees camping near the town. The rest went back into Somalia and camped some 500 metres from the border.
UNHCR said they kept crossing into Kenya and the agency would maintain an office in the area in case they wished to be registered as refugees. The Kenya Government has allowed two official refugee camps; Kakuma and Dadaab.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has transferred a total of 3,286 Somali Bantus from Dadaab to the Kakuma camp in Northern Kenya. The exercise started in June and aims to relocate 11,800 Somali Bantus.
The transfer comes ahead of their resettlement in the US. The US Government requested the transfer so that the whole operation could be conducted in one location with appropriate logistical arrangements. (Source UNHCR)
Humanitarian Update is published by the Disaster Prevention, Management and Coordination Unit under the Kenya Resident Coordinator Office, UN Complex, Gigiri.