Share this article

print logo

Kenyans donate $1.3 million to fight famine

Hashim Mohammed Elmogo spontaneously decided to donate his entire July salary of $376 to help those suffering from hunger after seeing a scrolling headline on television about a young child trying to nurse from his dead mother.

"I am very touched by the images of starving children and emaciated women," says the 36-year-old police constable. "We need to do all we can to ease the situation and save our fellow Kenyans."

Friends who heard of his generosity have since pledged to support him financially through the month of August.

In late 2007, post-election violence led Kenya to the brink of civil war and left the country divided along tribal lines more than ever before.

More than 1,000 people died when tribal alliances supporting President Mwai Kibaki and those of opposition candidate Raila Odinga engaged in reprisal attacks after Kibaki was announced winner. Peace was restored after former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan brokered a political agreement in which Odinga became prime minister and Kibaki retained the presidency.

Now in a show of unity, ordinary Kenyans -- majority of whom live on less than $2 a day -- have contributed more than $1.3 million in a little over a week. Corporate donations to the "Kenyans for Kenya" drive brought in an additional $4 million for the relief effort.

While famine in neighboring Somalia has killed tens of thousands of people, there have been hunger-related deaths in Kenya as well. At least five people have died in Turkana, the hardest hit area located in northern Kenyan near the border with Ethiopia.

Critics accuse the Kenyan government of being slow to respond. Kenya's well-paid legislators -- who include government ministers -- are preoccupied fighting a move by Kenya's tax authority ordering them to pay back taxes for their hefty allowances.

Currently, 2.4 million people are receiving food aid in Kenya. The U.N.'s World Food Program is feeding 1.6 million and the government of Kenya 800,000. But the United Nations says the number of those needing food assistance is expected to rise to about 3.2 million by mid-August.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua in a statement said the Kenyan government has allocated $11.3 million to aid the people affected by drought. The distribution of the resources has been slow due to logistical problems, he said.

There are no comments - be the first to comment