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The East African : July 28th 2014
32 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK JULY 26 - AUGUST 1, 2014 D E VE LO PME N T European Union gives Kenya $16b grant to strengthen food security The money is fo≥ the a≥id and semi a≥id a≥eas and will be ≥olled out to othe≥ a≥eas By JEFF OTIENO The EastAfrican T he European Union will give Kenya Ksh1.4 billion ($16.1 million) to help improve the country’s food security that has deteriorated following the poor performance of the long rains. The money is expected to aid 23 counties, mainly in the arid and semi arid areas dominated by pastoral communities. The first disbursement of Ksh570 million ($6.5 million) will be made available immediately to the National Drought Management Agency to minimise the impact of drought on livestock and livelihood. The balance will be donated at a later date to strengthen other anti-drought programmes in the counties. “Drought and the impact on food supply is a real and increasing problem for thousands living in the arid areas of Kenya. This emergency fund plans to shore up communities against incidents of reduced rain and prevent drought turning to famine,” Erik Habers, head of development at the European Union in Kenya, said. Mr Habers said the European Union has partnered with the National Drought Management Agency since it was set up in 2011 and is keen to contribute to Kenya’s drought preparedness and management, given the fact that extreme weather patterns will be common in the future were more than 300,000 malnourished children in the country and 2.9 million people in need of help. In Kenya, on the other hand, some of the counties, in northern and eastern Kenya, are already experiencing food shortages and there are fears the situation could worsen if urgent measures are not taken. The funds will be used, among other activities, to dig emergency boreholes, build more animal fodder storage and improve relationships between neighbouring pastoral communities to prevent conflicts over pasture. The long rains have so far per- formed poorly in Kenya, a situation expected to lead to a decline in yields of some of the country’s staples. Change tack The Agriculture Ministry has already announced that maize production will decline, this year, by between 15 and 20 per cent. Economists fear that fooddriven inflation will further increase the already high cost of living. However, the EU and Ken- yan government may be forced to change tack if the dreaded El Nino rains, expected to hit parts of the world, spread to East Africa in October. Under the EU programme, the Women walking in search of water in Somalia. The fund is expected to alleviate such issues. Picture: File due to climate change. The money will be channeled Drought and the impact on food supply is a real problem for thousands living in the arid areas of Kenya,” Erik Habers of the EU through the Drought Contingency Fund, established by the National Drought Management Agency. The fund is the first of its type in Africa and provides the crucial element for an effective response to an impending drought. In the event that the food cri- sis worsens in the counties, the agency plans supplementary feeding, emergency vaccinations and open up unused pasture. There will also be measures in place to increase water supplies such as storage and rehabilitation of shallow wells. “Should the crisis reach an emergency phase, like the regional drought of 2011, the fund would help provide key veterinary drugs, emergency therapeutic feeding of people, and support cash vouchers for food and emergency supplies of drinking water,” Mr Habers said. Other countries already ben- efiting from the programme are Ethiopia and Somalia, which have also been affected by the poor rains. The project is expected to be rolled out to other East African countries. The European Union is also supporting countries to establish insurance schemes for livestock herders and is currently push- ing for a large-scale cover for agricultural farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda who suffer from failed maize harvests. “Food security in the region is a challenge for many reasons. A growing population has a double impact on food availability; both in terms of reducing land available for farming as settlements grow, as well as increasing demand. This is exacerbated by increasing bouts of drought in East Africa,” said Dominique Davoux, head of agricultural development at the EU in Kenya. In Somalia, aid agencies have already warned of a looming catastrophe unless urgent aid arrives. The agencies said there government is expected to implement a comprehensive set of activities involving livestock and agriculture, water and nutrition, education and conflict. Mr Davoux said East Africa needs to embrace modern farming techniques, models and high producing seeds to boost food security. The European Union, for ex- ample, has partnered with agricultural institutions in Kenya to research into drought resistant strains of cassava, sorghum and pasture seeds, which have been successful. One of the successful plant spe- cies developed under the partnership is the “gadam” a sorghum variety, which has helped improve food security in the arid and semi arid areas. Legalising sex wo≥k may ≥educe HIV bu≥den— ≥epo≥t By CAELAINN HOGAN The Washington Post THE DECRIMINALISATION of sex work could significantly decrease global HIV infections among female sex workers, leading to a reduction by at least a third in three countries examined by researchers, according to a new study. In a paper presented at the 20th International Aids Conference in Melbourne, Australia, researchers who studied HIV among female sex workers in Canada, India and Kenya concluded that infections could be reduced by 33 to 46 per cent in those countries. “Across all settings, decriminali- sation of sex work could have the largest impact on the HIV epidem- ic among sex workers over just 10 years,” said Kate Shannon, an associate professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and the lead author of the study. “Governments and policymakers can no longer ignore the evidence.” The study was the first in a se- ries of papers by the Lancet to be presented at the global conference. The studies urge that any efforts to address the HIV epidemic put the challenges faced by sex workers at the forefront. Five high-risk groups — men who have sex with men, transgender people, people who inject drugs, prisoners, and sex workers — account for about half of all new HIV infections worldwide, the World Health Organisation reported this month. Female sex workers are 14 times as likely to have HIV as other women, according to WHO, with transgender women almost 50 times as likely to have HIV as other adults. The study, written by Prof Shan- non and her colleagues, found that high rates of violence, police harassment and poor working conditions, combined with poor access to prevention and care significantly increase HIV risks for sex workers. Anna-Louise Crago, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, was an editor of the Lancet The number of times transgender women are likely to have HIV 50 series. As a former sex worker in Canada, Ms Crago has a firsthand understanding of the challenges faced by this population. Making sex work a crime pushes sex workers to find isolated areas, increasing the risk of violence, and due to fear of arrest, transactions are rushed, and sex workers are less likely to insist on limits and safeguards, including condom use, the study finds. Many sex workers quoted in the study report police confiscating, destroying and using condoms as evidence. Sex workers often stop carrying condoms for fear of arrest. “Use of condoms as evidence is one glaring example of how criminalisation of sex work affects public health,” said Sienna Baskin, spokeswoman for the Sex Workers Project in New York. Because of their criminal status, sex workers tell Ms Baskin they fear that disclosure of their work will leave them stigmatised by health providers and in danger of losing custody of their children. In Kenya, according to the data in the study, even modest scale-up of sexworker-led outreach could prevent a quarter of new infections among sex workers. In India, the study shows progress reducing HIV risks has been made through sex-worker-led efforts to address stigma and empower the community. “We see from the evidence across settings that sex-worker-led efforts must go hand in hand with structural change,” said Prof Shannon.
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