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"Kenyans for Kenya" Leads Homegrown Famine Relief Effort

You've probably seen the stories about East Africa's worst food crisis in 60 years: Hungry and parched Somali children and adults are streaming into refugee camps in eastern Kenya, itself hit by a drought, along with Djibouti and Ethiopia, the other countries that make up the Horn of Africa.

But there's one story you probably haven't seen: Kenyans themselves raising money for famine relief. In a country where 46% of the population lives below the poverty line, Kenyans have donated almost $2 million in the past two weeks to the Kenyans for Kenya campaign, according to its website counter.

Onepercentblog wrote about the enterprise last week:

The initiative has brought together a number of organizations among them Safaricom Foundation, KCB Foundation and the country’s leading media houses operating under the umbrella of the Media Owners Association (MOA). The effort will be administered by relief agency Kenya Red Cross Society. Other corporate have also joined the band wagon and progress is being noted.

The initiative: Kenyans who’re standing together to help Kenyans who are in, extremely, need of help and have employed the use of mobile phones to transfer funds at no cost. This will ensure that even the smallest donation (as low as Sh10 (€0,07)) is harnessed, as this will go a long way in improving the situation of millions of Kenyans currently staring starvation and death in the eye.

A police constable donated his whole salary for the month of July. Nine-year-old Rose Nasimiyu, a cancer survivor and minor Kenyan celebrity, saw off Kenyans for Kenya food shipments over the weekend. With so much success in so little time, the people behind the campaign are now pushing to raise Sh1 billion, or about $10.5 million.

While most have commended this fundraising, some have pointed out that longer-term solutions are needed to solve the food crisis. Ikal Angelei, a program officer at Friends of Lake Turkana, a Kenyan nonprofit, said in an Associated Press story that the real causes of hunger need to be addressed.

"My only problem is when people are not starving, food security is no longer an issue and no one sees the need to discuss the root causes and the structures needed to tackle the issues," Angelei said. "So really it is a great effort but unfortunately may be repeated again in a year."

 

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