Kenya Red Cross Society overcoming natural barriers to deliver humanitarian support

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The food insecurity in Kenya has seen the Kenya Red Cross Society utilize multiple response interventions to support families facing food starvation. The crisis has affected more than 3 million people and despite the downpour being witnessed across the country, experts warn that the rains may not be sufficient.

The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) response has been driven by availability or resources, local and international support, and a dedicated team of staff traversing internal borders to ease human suffering and save lives.

The Cash Transfer Programme (CTP) to affected families has had immense success, cushioning thousands of people from starvation. Families have earned back their dignity because CTP allows them to prioritize their needs as household level. They choose what to eat and are able to meet other pressing needs. Initial stages of the programme entail assessment and targeting of households in dire need of cash support and despite some areas presenting terrain challenges, the KRCS teams stop at nothing until they reach those in need of help.

A recent CTP journey to Reres, Chepokachim and Kodungole villages in West Pokot was one of a kind as the villages are located along the Turkwel dam and had to be accessed by boat, followed by trekking the hilly and rocky earth roads to access the villages.

“We came from the dams margin to Reres village, covering about 2 kilometers then proceeded to Chepokachim village, another 4 kilometers to catch the next boat. After the long walk, we had to wait for about an hour before the boat arrived. The interesting part is the commitment I saw in my team members, wanting to reach and serve the residents of West Pokot,” narrated Carlos Kibet, CTP Officer, KRCS.

On the first day, the KRCS team managed to visit two villages where they targeted and registered 155 households. The process continued the next day to Katukumwok village where 40 households were targeted and registered.

“I lack words to express my gratitude. God must have sent you to rescue us from hunger. I lost all my few cows to the drought,” narrated Cheptilak Yaradomee, a resident of Kasitei Sub-Location. “Our area is dry and we rarely plant crops. Hunger has been our great enemy. It is hard to get money because there is nothing to sell now,” continued Yaradomee.

The poor road and telecommunication network could not deter the CTP team, keen to reach all the targeted villages where village committees and residents were eagerly waiting.

“After the boat ride, the only means of transport was by foot and the only roads available were footpaths. The area also had a bad mobile network, affecting our communication with the village committees and most important, the boatman who brought us from the mainland and was waiting to takes us back,” joked Kibet.

“CTP registration on these sides has been experiential, motivating and strengthening to our spirit of serving humanity. We always manage to accomplish our goal of reaching communities and registering the targeted households, said Caleb, a volunteer with KRCS.

"To be sincere my team is led by the spirit of volunteerism and service to humanity that even myself cannot explain. Right from the boat rides, trekking across rocky hills and being caught by rain in the middle of the dam,” continued Kibet.

It was the first time the villages were benefitting from the cash support.

“We thank Red Cross for the love they have shown to us. This is the first time in our history we will receive relief money. We are used to be given relief foods that do not reach the whole community," added Chepochekichup Meriongor, a community member.

The Cash Transfer Programme currently forms 75% of KRCS response in 14 counties. Other interventions include food distribution, health and nutrition outreaches, rehabilitation of key communal watering points and livestock destocking.

By Noellah Musundi, Kenya Red Cross Society