Baltimore, February 2, 2006 -- Due
to poor rains in the autumn of 2005, the food security situation in arid
and semi-arid regions of northern and eastern Kenya is rapidly deteriorating,
with an estimated 2.5 million people in need of emergency food aid. Relief
agencies on the ground have reported high levels of malnutrition among
young children and their mothers.
The Government of Kenya, the World Food Program and other relief agencies have already begun distributing food relief to those most in need. Lutheran World Relief is working on behalf of the global aid alliance Action by Churches Together to implement a response helping communities recover from the drought by increasing access to water and providing farm tools, seeds and agricultural training to enable people to grow drought-tolerant crops.
LWR has worked in Kenya for approximately 30 years, with a focus on building sustainable rural livelihoods and improving food security. Working with local partner organizations, LWR-ACT will distribute farm tools and seeds to 2,000 of the most vulnerable households in the Taita Taveta and Makueni districts, including many households now headed by single parents, grandparents, or orphans due to a parent's death from HIV/AIDS. Another 20,000 households will benefit from construction and rehabilitation of wells and dams -- largely built by community members themselves as part of a food-for-work program -- that will provide water for both people and livestock, and allow community members to irrigate their crops.
"Because the immediate food needs are already being met by the government and other agencies, we can focus our response on activities that will not only help people now, but will enable them to continue helping themselves," said LWR president Kathryn Wolford. "During prolonged droughts, households spend most of their time searching for water, and children, especially girls, often end up dropping out of school to help search for and collect water. By improving communities' access to water, we are in turn improving many other aspects of their lives as well. And by providing the seeds and tools, as well as the training necessary for gardening, we will be giving people both the resources and the skills they need to feed their families without outside help in the future."