Private sector donates Sh100 million worth relief food to Marsabit households

Over 20,000 households will benefit from the donations

In Summary

• Among the companies that contributed were Naivas, KCB Bank, Safaricom and various media houses.

• They were encouraged to take part in more drought-response initiatives across the country where 23 counties are in need.

Carcasses of animals Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO
Carcasses of animals Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

The private sector has donated relief food worth Sh100 million to go 20,000 households in drought-stricken Marsabit County.

The Pamoja Tuungane Drought Response campaign brought together the Ministry of Public Service and Special Programmes, and private sector players including organisations Naivas, KCB Bank, Safaricom and various media houses

During the flagging off ceremony of the relief food at the KICC grounds, Safaricom Chairman Michael Joseph said it was vital for Corporates to step up to the task.

“We need to be more proactive and upfront because the government has a lot of areas competing to get its resource. We should have done this campaign a few weeks back and not wait for the situation to get worse and worse,” he said.

Joseph said that more needs to be done in terms of preparing for such recurring disasters.

“This is a good programme but we need to be more prepared for things like these to happen. This is not the first time that there is drought in the area and people, as well as animals, are dying,” he said.

He said that the response needs to start early, not waiting for disaster to strike before they can take action and corporates need to stand together in the exercise.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa reiterated this, saying that they had been in talks with the government to put in place a framework to deal with such issues on a long-term basis.

“We discussed possible interventions such as sustainable climate response, water supply, improved sanitation, food security and hygiene and nutrition awareness,” he said.

He reminded private sector players of their corporate social responsibility to Kenyans saying that without Kenyans, the private sector would not prosper.

“Our role as the private sector is not just providing services to Kenyans and paying taxes to the government. The private sector cannot succeed if Kenyans do not succeed,” he said.

He said that there is no one sector that can be able to solve all the collective problems the country faces, therefore a cross-sector partnership was required.

The short rains assessment report released in February estimates that 3.1 million people require food assistance as a result of the persisting drought.

It is estimated that over 3.1 million Kenyans in the drought-stricken regions are at risk of succumbing to famine, with 250, 000 of them being in Marsabit alone.

From the Sh100 million worth of relief food, 20,000 households in Marsabit will benefit.

Ndegwa said that Kenyans can keep contributing to the Pamoja Tuungane campaign by buying relief food through Bonga Points.

“You can dial *126# and choose option number 0 to donate Bonga points towards purchasing relief food or using the paybill 444777 with the account name Drought. Further, you can donate a shopping basket of food items towards the cause,” he said.

He especially called on Kenyans this season of Ramadhan and Easter to give to these drought-stricken areas.

Public Service CS Margaret Kobia lauded this move by the private sector, saying it was a boost to the Government’s response currently happening in these areas.

“The campaign we are launching today complements the Government’s ongoing interventions which include the initial allocation of 2 billion to assist the affected households through relief food distribution, water trucking, and a livestock off-take programme,” she said.

She added that the government’s 2022/2023 budget had committed sh46.8 billion towards food security in the country.

“ The focus is to invest in community-based interventions that will build resilience in all the vulnerable households, diversification of livelihoods and improvement of early warning and impact forecasting system,” she said.

Willy Kimani, Naivas’ Chief Commercial Officer, said that they jumped on the opportunity to help Kenyans in the drought-striken regions because they understand the current cost of livivng.

“Basket value is actually going down, prices are increasing everyday and the availability of products as well has become a challenge. We decided as a board that we will give Sh20 million and logistics to the campaign,” he said.

Safaricom contributed Sh50 million to the response, with the MPESA foundation and Safaricom foundation contributing over Sh100 million jointly on the spot.

Stephen Gitagama, the chairperson of the Media Owners Association, said that as media houses, they were committing to give a voice to the situation.s

“It is very embarassing and unfortunate that our fellow Kenyans are dying of hunger. We will be a voice for these drought-stricken regions. We will use our capacity to make sure that Kenyans know about this initiative to help our our fellow Kenyans,” he said.