China gives Kenya Sh2.25 million food grant, rice shipment part of deal
China has given Kenya a Sh2.25 million grant for food to mitigate the effects of drought.
Treasury and the Chinese Embassy signed exchange of notes for humanitarian assistance in Nairobi on Monday.
Under the deal, China will supply 21,000 metric tonnes of rice, a shipment expected to arrive in three weeks.
Treasury CS Henry Rotich said the government has been taking short term measures to address the food crisis.
This includes mobilising funds through expenditure reprioritisation to meet the cost of importing maize and other foodstuff and supplying water to the drier parts of the country.
“However, the challenge is daunting and our budgetary resources are not adequate. This grant will therefore go a long way towards supplementing government efforts towards addressing the challenge,” Rotich said during the signing.
Rotich noted that Kenya is facing an unprecedented shortfall of the major food commodities, maize in particular.
He said at the signing that approximately three million people in both urban and rural areas are at risk of severe hunger.
“Indeed, because of not getting adequate food, children less than five years, expectant and lactating mothers are highly vulnerable to malnutrition,” he CS said.
China ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa said they were pushing for Kenya to receive the rise as soon as possible.
China is among the leading donors to Kenya with a cumulative official development assistance of Sh727.822 billion.
Among them is the ongoing construction of the Sh327 billion Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, expected to be launched in June.
After months of the drought in 23 arid and semi-arid counties and pockets of other areas, President Uhuru Kenyatta finally declared it a national disaster. The drought has affected human beings, livestock and wildlife.
Uhuru asked all local and international stakeholders to support the government by up-scaling drought mitigation programmes.
“Support from our partners would complement efforts in mitigating the effects of drought,” he said at State House in Nairobi on February 10.
The President said the government would fast-track and up-scale mitigation programmes to ensure the situation is properly contained.
The UN has appealed for Sh17 billion from its partners to assist more than three million residents in Northern Kenya facing starvation.
Government agencies have warned that the number of those facing starvation could rise to four million people if rains fail by end of April.
According to UN reports, the number of severely food insecure Kenyans has doubled in the past one year to 2.6 million with a similar number lacking access to safe drinking water.