Kenya

Kenyan corruption allegations should not affect drought appeals

As the food crisis situation worsens in Kenya, corruption scandals involving senior politicians hit the international headlines. But the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) insists that that this should not have an impact on those who are currently desperately in need.
"Most NGOs are just what they say -- Non Governmental," explained Catherine Mahoney, Director of Communications and Fundraising at the HQ in Nairobi, Kenya. "Monies raised by the general public around the world are channeled through organisations like AMREF and we ensure that the communities themselves directly benefit from our aid efforts. It is clear that fundraising efforts have been hampered due to the current headlines about Kenya, and that is regrettable, to say the least. As the Swahili saying goes: "When two elephants fight it is the grass that gets trampled."

David Mwagiru from the AMREF communications team has just visited one of the worst hit areas. "People are literally starving in Makueni District where we visited recently and most of the rivers have dried up," he said. "The food and water that AMREF and other NGOs are providing is vital to the people's wellbeing in this country. Now is the time to act."

The corruption scandals obviously have to be addressed but AMREF is asking that they do not discourage members of the public from supporting appeals, addressing the worst drought since the 1970s.

An estimated 2.5 million are in need of food aid in the country. Hundreds of people have died and thousands of animals have perished. And this can only get worse if funds are not forthcoming and the rains are poor in mid-March. Pastoralists are selling cows that would usually sell for Ksh20,000 (=A3159) for as little as Kshs500 (=A32.88-=A33.40). Millions of people are on the move across the country in search of water and dead livestock lines the streets.

As part of its appeal to develop sustainable water sources, AMREF is building shallow wells, boreholes and gravity water pipe systems to provide drinking water for people and cattle and water for crops. It has been doing this for many years and in certain areas affected by the drought, the water provided by AMREF is the only source available.

David Mwagiru explains: "Many places we visited this week were completely dry. You could tell that people had prepared the land and planted crops but there was nothing there. But in Nguu Division where AMREF constructed a borehole, along with the local community, we saw people picking vegetables from a nursery and mangoes from an orchard. It was like an oasis."

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For more information and /or interviews please contact:

Louise Orton, communications manager, AMREF UK on 0207 471 6763 or 07939 141 764 or e-mail: l.orton@amrefuk.org
Or Cathy Mahoney, communications director, AMREF HQ on 00 254 20 699 3320 or 00 254 7222 00593 or e-mail: catherinem@amrefhq.org