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Saudi prince gives US$1 million to feed Kenyans

WFP has heartily welcomed a private donation of US$1 million from His Royal Highness Prince Al-Walid bin Talal of Saudia Arabia for WFP’s emergency operation to provide food assistance to 3.6 million people suffering from the ravages of drought.

WFP has heartily welcomed a private donation of US$1 million from His Royal Highness Prince Al-Walid bin Talal of Saudia Arabia for WFP’s emergency operation to provide food assistance to 3.6 million people suffering from the ravages of drought.

“WFP is extremely grateful to His Royal Highness for this timely contribution. It is exactly the kind of support that these desperate people deserve from both private donors and governments," said James Morris, WFP Executive Director.

"Fine example"

"We thank the Prince for setting such a fine example and we hope his generosity will spur other potential donors into action.”

The new US$1 million contribution brings the total funding received by WFP to US$105 million – which is still less than half of the US$225 million required to feed up to 3.5 million drought ravaged people in Kenya until February 2007.

It is exactly the kind of support that these desperate people deserve from both private donors and governments
James Morris, WFP Executive Director
The donation – from one of the world’s richest men – was announced after a meeting today between WFP’s Special Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Arrukban, and President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya at State House in Nairobi.

“I visited the President to explain this gift from His Royal Highness Prince Al-Walid bin Talal to the drought-stricken people of Kenya. The donation is being channeled through WFP’s emergency operation,” Arrukban said.

Needing assistance

“Many nomadic herders and subsistence farmers have lost everything so they and their families need sustained assistance for months to come – despite the start of the rains last month.”

Following the start of the long rains, WFP and its partners last week agreed to raise the numbers of people receiving food aid in Garissa and Mandera Districts by a total of 45,000.

This latest increase brings the total WFP aims to feed with general food distributions to 3.09 million.

School feeding

In addition, 536,000 children in the worst drought-affected areas should receive WFP food at school from this month.

Although the rains have satisfied the immediate needs of people and livestock for water, there is an increased risk of people falling sick from drinking contaminated water.

Livestock deaths have continued because the animals are too weak and vulnerable to diseases such as pneumonia when temperatures fall at night.

Delay

In addition, the rains have delayed the trucking of food aid to the north and east of Kenya because sand and dirt roads are impassable in some places and transporters refuse to load WFP food until they open up.

People who have lost everything will need food and other assistance well into 2007 and beyond.

Even if the long rains are normal until June, after years of poor rains and drought in Kenya, and even if normal short rains follow (from October to December), it will take years to rebuild the livelihoods of the nomadic herders who have lost all their livestock and subsistence farmers who are now destitute.

Millions need help

A total of 2.9 million people received more than 28,000 metric tonnes of WFP food from mid-March to mid-April through emergency general food distributions in the north and east of Kenya.

New one-month food distributions are underway in 20 districts and will start in the remaining five districts this week.

In March and April, WFP was forced to drop vegetable oil entirely from its rations and drastically cut the amount of nutritious corn-soya blend provided in the food basket in Kenya because of a lack of cash and late arrival of in-kind food contributions.

For the same reasons, no pulses were provided in April.