George Conger in CofE Newspaper

Starvation in East Africa was a result of drought compounded by government incompetence, the Archbishop of Kenya said last week.

The United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization reports that over 11 million people, including 2.3 million children under the age of 5, are in urgent need of food and water in the horn of Africa: Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Kenya following two years of drought that has left over 10,000 dead.

The situation is particularly acute in Somalia, the UN’s refugee agency reported, where 3.7 million people are facing food shortages. Almost 300,000 people live in two provinces in Somalia that have now been declared famine areas. However, the pro-al Qaeda Islamist group al-Shabab has refused access to allow Western aid agencies in the worst hit regions, but has permitted relief from Muslim countries to be distributed in the territory they control.

In an account of a speech given in Bungoma last week printed by the Nairobi Standard, Kenyan Archbishop Eliud Wabukala chastised the government, saying the food shortages in Northern and Eastern Kenya were the “result of government’s failure to plan.”

Drought was a cyclical occurrence in the Horn of Africa, the archbishop said, arguing the government should have had plans in place to deal with threat.

“Government knew from forecasts the drought would be severe and ought to have planned adequately how to deal with the food situation to save those people now starving but leaders did nothing. They have again let Kenyans down letting the situation deteriorate into massive human suffering” the archbishop said.

On Aug 3, the Anglican Church of Kenya released a pastoral letter stating the country was facing two “major challenges”: the drought and the “inconsistent manner of the constitutional implementation process.”

While the rains had failed in Eastern Kenya, the drought had been exacerbated by the government’s “structural failures.”

There are regions of Kenya that “currently have plenty of food e.g. Nyandarua, Western Kenya, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu. What mechanisms are in place to ensure that this food is harvested, preserved, put in strategic reserves and distributed as needed,” the church asked.

“Food insecurity is ultimately a security concern, as a hungry person is an angry person,” the church said.

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