02 April 2009

How to Put a Band Aid on a Gaping Wound:


By Laura Wileman, Community Newswire

SOCIAL Kenya, 02 Apr 2009 - 16:37

Save the Children has today launched a £5 million emergency appeal for children in Kenya who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

The charity estimates that there are up to 100,000 more malnourished children in Kenya today because of a rise in food prices last year. It said food shortages had reached crisis point and were expected to last for at least a year.

The group has called for leaders at the G20 summit in London to take "decisive action" to help poor countries survive the global recession.

David Mepham, Save the Children's director of policy, said: "What poor people want and deserve is that these promises are delivered on.

"G20 leaders have said that they will do what is necessary to revive their own economies. With equal urgency they should do whatever it takes to protect the world''s poor, including poor children, from a financial crisis that was not of their making."

Kenya is perceived as one the more developed African nations, but the charity said severe drought and a drop in tourism had made its situation worse.

David added: "Poor people in the poorest countries were hit hard by the rise in food and fuel prices last year. The financial crisis will hurt them even more, and children are most at risk.

"Without a big increase in financial resources for the poorest countries, large numbers of children will fall into poverty, drop out of school, suffer ill-health or be more exposed to violence and exploitation."

Timira Mohammed, 30, from North-east Kenya, recently lost her five-year-old daughter, Fariha to hunger and drought. She said: "Fariha's death was definitely caused by hunger. That's why she wasn't' strong enough to fight the malaria and diarrhoea.

"My children are often sick and sometimes we can't afford drugs to make them better.

"My family has to go hungry a lot and many of us in the village have to drink from the water pans which are used by the animals. People are always getting sick because of the water."

Timira believes many more in the area will die without help. She said: "Food prices have gone up, which is a real problem. A kilogram of rice was only 100 shillings a few months ago but now it has doubled and the same has happened with milk."

An estimated 4 million people in Kenya face acute food shortages for the next year as they live in areas hit hardest by the drought and food prices.

Four-year old Abdi Aziz is another of Kenya's children struggling to survive. His mother, 27-year-old Abdi Alio said: "He was in bed for a week with malaria recently and has had many colds.

"I am very worried about his health. Save the Children told us today he will need four months of proper nourishment to get better because he is nearly four kilograms underweight.

"This food shortage has made everyone so unhappy."

An appeal being made that focuses on providing food hand outs.  There is certainly a need for food because of the drought, but the issues go much deeper.  Prices are raised due to lack of governmental transparency and honesty.  Does it make sense when MP's do not have to pay taxes?  Whether it is the fault of the country of not, it is the duty of government to serve and protect its citizens.  There is no sign of that here.  Save the Children will raise the Five Million Pounds and bring food to the central province.  Some will make it to Nairobi, a bit to the coast and the last little bit to Kisumu (if the people are lucky).  Here, off the map, the forgotten prepare to plant crops for the new season.  Prices rise, there is no gas, but the President stops by for five minutes to pretend as if he cares about the Western Province.  Feed the Children will be the solution.  An NGO who does not work to put itself out of business is not effective.  Feed the Children should one day go bankrupt because of the lack of need.  That is success when you are a non-profit organization.  Not multi-million dollar or pound drives.  Sadly Feed the Children will gain the notice and likely not make much of a dent in affecting change in thoughts amongst people sitting in the West.  I challenge everyone to look hard and try to find out how much news that is reported is international.  Then take away anything related to the US fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, news about trade or goings on in China and Japan, the financial crisis for any G20 nation, and anything Israel.  Anything about maize being sold illegally in Kenya?  War in Somalia, DR Congo, Darfur?  A bloodless coup in Madagascar?  Indonesia's elections?

It is shocking to think that an entire way of thinking (foreign aid) which has been a consistent failure for over half a century has changed so little.  The same principles that were applied in 1950 are used today and people act surprised with nations do not improve.