Kenyans say tired of Red Cross aid appeals; want explanations

Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet (centre) leads the launch of fundraising for Turkana drought victims. [Photo: Courtesy KRSCS]

Kenya Red Cross Society is under fire for calling for financial assistance from Kenyans to help the Turkana drought victims.

A section of the online community is blaming the charity and the government for lacking long term solutions and failing to account for money which was collected in a similar campaign in 2011.

Yetich Zeph tweeted: “We need a report of how funds received during Kenyans for Kenya were utilized. I understand some irrigation projects died with no follow up/sustainability plans.”

MC Tony Taiti also posted: “Why can't Red Cross do something noble by coming to the forefront to demand for (sic) accountability from the Govt? Shall we be fundraising all the time even when we pay hefty taxes every month?? Aaaaargh!!”

SEE ALSO :Vital irrigation projects stall as insecurity reigns

And, Mary Wangari posted on Facebook page: “This paybill number should be taken to parliament not to common mwananchi. As much as we would want to help our brothers and sisters, it's unfortunate that we doubt if the help will reach them since we have lost trust. This might just be someone's budget for a Prado /V8
See your life.”
(sic)

On Thursday the Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet was reported explaining that of the Sh1 billion raised in 2011, Sh700m was in cash and Sh300m was in kind.

And, in a 2014 clip posted on the  Kenya Red Cross Society's Youtube account, Mr Gullet says that the 2011 'Kenyans for Kenya' campaign realized Sh1 billion, which was pumped into hunger and drought mitigation projects.

In the Youtube clip Mr Gullet said that out of the Sh700 million cash which was raised, his organisation used Sh350 million on food and medical supplies on the hunger-stricken Turkana residents and then the other half of projects.

In the wake of the Turkana, Baringo and Pokot food crisis, Kenya Red Cross once again is appealing to Kenyans to chip in with financial assistance, even as the government tries to downplay the crisis, saying that no hunger or drought-related deaths have been reported in the country.

SEE ALSO :20 refugees 'held by Kenya Red Cross' in Migori

The Deputy President William Ruto said on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 that: "We don't have a food crisis, but a challenge of food distribution…I want to tell the country that nobody has died, we are working round the clock to make sure that nobody dies as a result of hunger."

So harsh was the Ruto that he called for the arrest of the Turkana area chief who had issued claims of hunger-related deaths.

As he termed hunger death claims as 'fake' news', Tiaty Member of Parliament William Kamket, while speaking to Citizen Tv on Thursday stated the contrary that at least five people have succumbed to hunger in Baringo-another drought-stricken area.

"People have died and that is for real and they continue to suffer. You no hunger is hunger haina aibu (hunger has no shame)," Kamket posed.

This was barely days after Turkana South MP James Lomenen told the Standard that he lost four elderly constituents to hunger.

The KRCS seeks to raise close to Sh900 million, a call that has divided Kenyans on whether to contribute or leave the national and county governments to provide the humanitarian assistance.

 The problem could be more pronounced this time round as Kenyans living in 14 counties stare at starvation, if reports by Devolution Ministry are to go by.

Long term plans

The division in opinion has been brought by the lacking long term plan to spur economic activities in the counties to alleviate the problem.

However, in his 2014 interview, the KRCS boss Gullet gave a breakdown of how the organization tried to invest part of the money Kenyans collected in 2011.

 He said that the KRCS drilled five boreholes in Turkana, initiated two agriculture projects to enable locals grow kales and water melons. But the impacts of projects he mentioned may have disappeared in thin air.

According to him, the long term investment program targeted even A-wal Dai area, Moyale where two other agricultural projects were initiated, including cultivation of 200 acres of land. Gullet said that the KRS initiated similar projects in 22 other areas in the country namely Kibwezi, Mwingi, Narok, Mandera among others.

Where are counties?

While many Kenyans have been calling for invention of long term remedy, for drought-prone areas, county governments have been accused of not doing enough.

Mr Gullet seemed to taking similar stance as he urged the Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok to focus on futuristic long term solution.

But on Wednesday, Governor Nanok said that the Treasury takes time to send funds to the counties and even what he receives for the fiscal year may not be enough to accommodate hunger mitigation.

The fight against hunger may involve alot of financial investment.

It would take billions of shillings to extinguish the epidemic hunger pangs in Turkana, and even more than Sh30 billion to wipe food crises in the country, Kenya Red Cross boss Abbas Gullet said in 2014 interview.

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Kenya Red Cross SocietyTurkana droughtKenyans for KenyaAbbas Gullet