Kenya Revised Emergency Response Plan 2008
The controversial re-election of President Mwai Kibaki in December 2007 spurred ethnically motivated riots responsible for the displacement of 500 000 people. The violence is deeply rooted in the ethnic-based patronage of Kenya’s political system and the grievances of communities that feel subjected to political and economic marginalization.
Thousands of households – victimized by ethnic association as either pro-government or pro-opposition – lost their homes, possessions, livelihoods and family members to post-election violence. Some 250 000 people have fled to camps for shelter, with a similar number being hosted by local communities.
Hopes for lasting reconciliation lie in the implementation of the power-sharing accord, signed on 28 February, for the formation of a coalition government comprising members of both parties. On 13 April, opposition leader Raila Odinga was appointed prime minister.
The growing humanitarian crisis related to these events is further compounded by early stages of drought. The projected rain shortages will exacerbate the loss of the March planting season crops and production shortfalls resulting from post-election violence, contributing to increased food insecurity and commodity costs throughout the country.
The Kenya 2008 Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan (EHRP), initially launched in mid-January, was revised on 8 April to respond to a more comprehensive assessment of needs in line with the evolving political situation and projected rainfall shortages. Food security and livelihood interventions form an integral part of assistance under the 2008 EHRP.
Challenges facing food security and livelihoods
Approximately 75 percent of Kenya’s population depends on agriculture for its livelihood, and for many, as a means to meet household food requirements. The recent violence forced hundreds of thousands of farmers and pastoralists to abandon their homes, fields and production assets, much of which were either burned or looted during the riots.
Rift Valley Province – the area most affected by the post-election crisis – is both the ‘grain basket’ of Kenya, producing 70 percent of the staple maize crop, and one of the main milk producing parts of the country. By March, only 10 to 20 percent of land had been prepared for cultivation as compared to the 60 to 90 percent usually cultivated by that time.
With the likelihood of drought in the coming season, vulnerable groups are at greater risk of food insecurity. It is essential that displaced farmers are able to safely return to their fields and receive the seeds, tools, fertilizers and veterinary inputs necessary to resume agricultural activities. Production costs have also risen by 27 percent, with steep increases in the cost of commercial commodities reported in surrounding countries of up to 50 percent.
With agriculture as a sustainable means to enhance food security and self-reliance, rehabilitation of the sector will be key to rebuilding livelihoods, promoting spontaneous recovery initiatives and establishing the foundation for longer-term recovery. These efforts will respond to critical humanitarian needs and the national food production crisis.
FAO in Kenya
Within the framework of the 2008 EHRP, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) aims to support Government efforts to restore the agricultural production and self-reliance of rural families most affected by post-election violence and the projected drought.
FAO’s proposed activities include:
- assisting internally displaced persons (IDPs) to resettle and resume agricultural activities;
- maximizing food production through the provision of seeds, tools, fertilizers and veterinary supplies;
- rehabilitation of fields, pastures and key infrastructure;
- strengthening emergency preparedness and food security information systems.
As part of the 2008 EHRP, FAO has appealed for USD 11.7 million.