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Kenya Humanitarian Update Sep 2002

Attachments

(Extract from the report)
Overview

Issues surrounding a draft constitution released by the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission on September 18 dominated most public discussions in the country this month. The attention was because of its bold proposals that included creation of new office of a prime minister with executive powers and the setting up of a two-chamber parliament.

The judiciary was unhappy with a proposal that all high court judges be retired and new ones appointed to replace them so they acquired court orders stopping Kenyans from discussing the intended constitution. Prior to the release of the draft, two lawyers had obtained orders stopping the Commission from discussing intended judiciary reforms.

Some of the outstanding proposals are creation of two posts of deputy prime minister, the president shall have no executive powers instead he is to carry out special responsibilities including that of national unity and safeguarding the constitution. The cabinet is to be appointed from outside parliament to allow MPs time to do constituency work.

The draft constitution proposes scrapping of the current local authorities replacing them with provincial, district and village councils whose members will be elected directly by the people.

The National Alliance Party of Kenya, that pools 13 political parties is to support Opposition leader and Democratic Party Chairman Mr Mwai Kibaki for Presidency, FORD-Kenya Chairman Kijana Wamalwa as his running mate and NPK Chairperson Ms Charity Ngilu for the yet to be created Prime Minister. Kenya National Union, KANU, is yet to nominate its presidential candidate.

On food security, close to 80 per cent of maize has been harvested and the local market is expected to have surplus maize into the first quarter of 2003. Owing to improved yield, as a result of resumption of rainfall in July and August, the Ministry of Agriculture forecast of 1.89 million metric tons of maize is likely to be realised at the completion of harvesting of the crops planted during the 2002 long rains season. The World Food Programme emergency operation (EMOP) and Food For Work programmes were concluded in September and there is no more food distribution going on at present.

Pastoralists too are enjoying better food security as a result of improved vegetation after the 2002 long rains good season. Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMP) said livestock body condition remained good though most pastoralists have moved to the dry grazing zones where forage is available. The distance between water sources and areas with plenty of forage have increased forcing the animals to walk long distances. However, some rains were reported this month in Turkana, Samburu, Mandera and Tana River districts, but the rest of the arid lands remained dry.

Elsewhere, the Kenya Government is to overhaul the entire water sector through implement action of the just enacted Water Act (2002). It guarantees access to portable water to all citizens at all times in all corners of the country and apportions responsibilities to various organs who are expected to oversee achievement of the set out goals. The new law is the culmination of water sector reforms that have been in the pipeline for some time.

On security, a total of 17 people died following a spate of fighting between two communities in Isiolo Central District (Central Kenya). The fighting broke out in the first week of September 2002 and forced close to 500 households to abandon their homesteads and 12 schools to close down. Calm has been restored in the area and residents who fled after the bandit attacks earlier in the month have started returning home. However, not all the displaced were willing to go back because they say the security is inadequate. Security teams of regular and administration police officers had been deployed and would stay in the area until the end of the year.

Weather experts forecast continued drought

Weather experts have expressed fears of continued drought conditions in parts of the country despite occurrence of El Niño type of rainfall in some parts of the country. Weather forecast model indicate a high likelihood of a weak to moderate El Niño to persist in that period. It was also noted that Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies (SSTAs) over most of the tropical Atlantic and Indian oceans were weak. Their influence on rainfall over the sub region may therefore be rather weak. However, warmer than normal SSTAs had been observed over equatorial eastern Indian Ocean. The experts say much of Kenya, Tanzania, southern Ethiopia, southern and northern Somalia and parts of southern Sudan will receive normal to below average rainfall. Only south-western Kenya and parts of the coastal areas are expected to receive above normal rainfall in the same period.

This will result in low or reduced soil moisture conditions in the affected areas .of the sub-region. These include much of Kenya and Tanzania, southern Ethiopia, southern and northern Somalia and parts of southern Sudan. These conditions are likely to cause severe water shortages for both humans and animals thereby adversely affecting several socioeconomic sectors especially agriculture and food security. Some of these areas have experienced drought conditions for the past several seasons. The impacts of the accumulated rainfall deficits may therefore be further exacerbated by the low or reduced soil moisture conditions. Meanwhile huge cracks have appeared on River Nzoia's northern and southern dykes, raising fears that they could collapse when El Niño rains set in. The residents are yet to recover from the effects of flooding caused by the long rains season four months ago. River Nzoia, which traverses the constituency, frequently bursts its banks during heavy rains. The floods swamp homes, destroy crops and displace thousands of families.

Residents routinely leave their homes and seek refuge in camps. About 60 displaced families are still camped at the Budalangi divisional headquarters. Busia water engineer says about Sh79 million was needed for a "comprehensive repair" of the dykes. He said the 32-km dyke, was built in 1961. Early this month, parts of Tana River were cut off after the Hola/Garsen Road became impassable following a deluge that lasted two days. However, the National Disaster Operations Centre confirmed the incident but said the road was usable after two days.

Good maize yields guarantee food security

Surplus maize is expected to flood the local market into the first quarter of 2003, the September issue of the FEWS Net Kenya Vulnerability Update says.

Owing to improved yield, as a result of resumption of rainfall in July and August, the Ministry of Agriculture forecast of 1.89 million metric tons of maize is likely to be realised at the completion of harvesting of the crops planted during the 2002 long rains season. The effect of the surplus maize is expected to be felt when harvesting in the main maize growing areas ends between November and December and short rains crop harvest in February next year. This year's projected yield is close to 0.9 million metric tons less than the last decade's average of 2.18 million metric tons annually.

Farmers in Nyanza, Coast, Southern Rift Valley and in the lowland areas of Eastern and Central provinces have completed harvesting their maize crop. The highlands areas of Central, Eastern, and most of Western provinces are also expected to have completed harvesting. At the moment, harvesting is going on in Kericho, Nandi, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gichu - these are key growing areas of central Rift Valley - as well as Bungoma District until November. These five districts are expected to contribute close to 40 per cent of the 2002 long-rains maize crop yields in Kenya.

The number of destitute pastoralists has grown significantly as a result of the three-year drought that affected most of the arid and semi -arid areas of the country. The recovery of herds is also expected to take longer because by the time the just ended drought struck, most pastoralists were just recovering from the successive poor seasons that begun in 1996. FEWS Net says in several pastoral districts, current herd sizes are unable to support the household food security.

Dry grazing areas are said to be accommodating pastoralists who have moved their livestock since August in response to diminished water, pasture and browse in the wet season grazing areas. Vegetation and water availability is generally favourable in most of the dry season areas with the exception of Tana River hinterland, West Pokot and parts of Baringo and Mandera districts. The movement has reduced milk availability in the pastoral districts.

World Food Programme Emergency Operation winds up

World Food Programme (Kenya) Emergency Operation (EMOP) ended this month after distributing 675,000 metric tones of food worth about US$300 million.

The Kenya drought EMOP, which began in March 2000, at its peak had a beneficiary level of some 3.4 million people. A final general food distribution under EMOP took place in Turkana, Mandera, West Pokot, Ijara, Marsabit and Tana River.

A total of 499,921 beneficiaries in the six districts received 6,992 MT of food during the final EMOP general distribution.

Food for Work initiative under the Kenya EMOP has also wound up in all the seven districts.

A total of 4,861 MT of food was allocated for distribution to these districts in September.

Implementing partners and NGO's are also expected to phase out their activities on the EMOP Food For Work programme this month.

Relocation of Somali Bantu completed

The relocation of Somali Bantu from Dadaab refugee camp near the Somali border, to Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya ended this month. The last convoy transporting 302 Somali Bantus arrived on Sunday September 29 in Kakuma and were met by a cheering crowd. Over a three-month period International Organisation for Migration (IOM) organised 23 road convoys to assist a total of 11,755 refugees on a three day, 1,500-km journey across Kenya. Some 499 particularly vulnerable population, including pregnant women, infants, elderly and those too sick to travel by road, were flown on an IOM chartered flight, which completed 10 rotations between Dadaab and Kakuma. The exercise was started on 27 June. Medical examination will start in October and cultural orientation courses thereafter. Topics will include US laws, employment, cultural adjustment, as well as additional classroom time for parenting issues, youth topics and survival literacy.

In Kakuma, IOM and the World Vision have built 2,500 mud brick shelters. An additional 200 shelters are being constructed for the final arrivals, who will spend the first few nights in UNHCR-issued tents. Approximately 500 Somali Bantus referred to the US Refugee Program remain in Dadaab. IOM will move these residual cases once UNHCR conducts interviews and confirms their identities.

The Somali Bantu are living reminders of the once widespread and lucrative Indian Ocean slave trade. Their history as a distinct group began around the turn of the 18th century when the sultan of Zanzibar and other slave lords captured their forefathers in Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique and sold them into slavery in Somalia.

After slavery was abolished in the 19th and early 20th century, they settled in Somalia's fertile southern region along the Juba River and maintained their farming tradition.

In 1991, as Somalia descended into chaos and civil war, hostile militias raided Bantu settlements. Isolated, without any means of protection, they suffered widespread massacres and rap e. Thousands fled on foot to Kenya. The most vulnerable, the elderly, the young and the sick died en route of hunger, thirst and disease. In 1999, the United States designated these exiled Somali Bantu a priority group for resettlement Meanwhile, IOM is working on modalities of sending to Uganda some of its nationals who have expressed a desire to make use of an amnesty granted by their government in 2000.

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