East Africa: AAR JAPAN Distributes Food and Non-Food Items in Mwingi, Kenya

In August 2011, AAR JAPAN launched its emergency relief activities in drought-affected Kenya. So far, we have been distributing food and non-food items in Garissa District (North Eastern Province), and have set up several large tents to be used as classrooms at an elementary school in the refugee camp of Dadaab, close to the border with Somalia. Equipment such as blackboards, chalk and notebooks were also provided to the school. However, in October, two aid workers of an international NGO were kidnapped at the refugee camp, and in November, Garissa District recorded several incidents of grenade explosions. As it became increasingly difficult to secure the safety of our staff, AAR JAPAN decided to shift activities to Mwingi District (about 150 km west of Garissa) where we carried out a food distribution in the Kyuso region.

November 30th, 2011 - Food distribution in Kyuso (Mwingi District). Pictured on the left is AAR JAPAN field staff Chiya NAGASHIMA.

Priority on Elderly People and Persons with Disabilities

More than half of Kenya's territory is composed of semi-arid and arid landscapes. Kyuso Division in Mwingi District is one of these regions that are heavily affected by the arid climate and the impact of the recent drought there is particularly high. In the past year, there was only one substantial rainfall in Kyuso. With livestock and farming being the main income sources for the majority of the population, many have lost their means of making a living by now. In addition to the drought preventing people from growing crops, food prices up to twice as high as usual make it difficult for them to get hold of food. This is why AAR JAPAN decided to distribute food and non-food items at two locations (Maseki and Kiseuni) in Kyuso. 500 households in total benefited from the distribution, which took place on November 30th, 2011. Priority was given to households with elderly people and persons with disabilities.

Kauki KITHEKA (81) for example lives in a household of 10, including her children and grandchildren. Her son had been earning his living as a farmer, but the drought has made it hard for him and the family to survive. The last time they received aid from another organization was in September, and after that, there had been no distribution of food or other items. “The food we have received today from AAR JAPAN really makes a difference”, Kauki said. “I can’t believe you have come all the way from Japan for us! Thank you!”

November 30th, 2011 - Kauki KITHEKA (right) and her daughter Sumiti KIUNI (middle) welcomed AAR JAPAN field staff Chiya NAGASHIMA. Both ladies are visually impaired. (Maseki Settlement in Kyuso, Mwingi District)

The following items were distributed in Mwingi (per household): rice (10kg), spaghetti (2kg), wheat flour (3kg), beans (3kg), sugar (1kg), salt (500g), cooking oil (1l), tomato paste (2 cans), tea leaves (500g), bucket (1), jerry can (1), sanitary pads for women (1 pack), soap (3), plastic sheet (1).

Continued Support for a Better Drought Preparedness
After the start of the rainy season in October, cultivation of food staple “maize” (a type of grain) has resumed, with crops being expected for January. And January is also when the next dry season is to start… It takes time for the grain to grow, and no one can bring back the cattle that have died. Drought is affecting people’s lives constantly.

In the last 10 years, East Africa has been hit 3 times by severe drought. Individuals as well as communities have reached the limit of their capability to cope with it. To help mitigate the damage of droughts to come, AAR JAPAN is planning to engage in the consolidation of water supply systems and the installation of water tanks. Our field staff is currently conducting an assessment on site for the new project. Your continued support is much appreciated!

November 30th, 2011 - Kyambi KITOUYO (66) lives with his son and 2 grandchildren. “We had 5 goats, but all of them have died”, he says. (Kyuso Division, Mwingi District)

November 30st, 2011 – The family of James MUSYOKA (to the right, 77) has 13 members: James and his wife, his son, his son’s wife, and 9 grandchildren. “Because of the drought, food prices have gone up and we can’t afford food. Every month we receive 4kg of maize from the government, but it’s just not enough”, he explains. (Kyuso Division, Mwingi District)

November 30st, 2011 – People waiting in line for the distribution, joined by AAR JAPAN staff Hiromi KAWANO (Kyuso Division, Mwingi District)

November 30st, 2011 – Lady using a “Kanga” (traditional Kenyan cloth) to carry the supplies received (Kyuso Division, Mwingi District)

Chiya NAGASHIMA, AAR JAPAN Nairobi Office
Has been working in Kenya since October 2011. After graduating from a university in the United States with a degree of Business Administration, worked 5 years for a company in Japan. Before joining AAR JAPAN, had worked in Cambodia for an NGO against child trafficking and child labor.