SA sends relief aid to Kenya

Khanyi Magubane

South Africa is to send a consignment of relief aid to Kenya following months of violence in the East African country. Dispatched through South Africa’s National Disaster Management Centre, the aid package leaves Johannesburg on Friday 7 March.

At a total cost of R4-million (US$500 000), the consignment includes It 10 000 blankets, 1 000 chemically treated mosquito nets, 1 000 plastic tarpaulins, 2 000 water purification tablets, as well as female sanitary ware. The cost includes the relief supplies themselves as well as transport, storage, customs clearance and airfreight.

Kenya’s troubles began after the December 2007 elections, when it was announced that the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki had beaten opposition party leader Raila Odinga. Allegations of vote-rigging quickly degenerated into riots, looting, arson and killing across Nairobi and up the Rift Valley. Gangs threatened families and burned houses, primarily in Nairobi and in areas of western Kenya.

The Kenyan government and the Kenya Red Cross Society have launched an international appeal for emergency support. This includes non-food items such as water purification tablets to prevent waterborne diseases, mosquito nets to prevent malaria, shelter (tents, plastic sheeting and tarpaulins), blankets and public health supplies.

“We have pledged our solidarity and we are confident that the people of Kenya will overcome this calamity,” South African Minister of Provincial and Local Government Sydney Mufumadi, who has disaster management in his mandate, said while announcing the aid.

The consignment will be received in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, by the South African high commission who will then hand it over to the Kenya Red Cross for distribution.

World call for Kenyan relief

In January this year, the United Nations appealed for $42-million in humanitarian assistance to victims of the post-election violence in Kenya. Since December 2007, more than a thousand people have been killed and about half a million more now rely on international aid. John Holmes, UN under-secretary general who coordinates emergency humanitarian programmes, said the bulk of the money was needed for food aid in the next six months. The remainder would be used for emergency shelter and the early recovery and protection of civilians.

International faith based organisations have also sent relief aid to Kenya.

In February the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) announced that they had already provided $300 000 worth of emergency supplies, bringing relief to more than 40 000 people. CRS is now developing longer-term response plans with affected dioceses, Caritas Kenya and the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

UK-based organisation Christian Aid pledged £50 000 to the regions worst hit by the violence. The money will be used to support 2 300 thousand families, or 13 800 individuals, with essential items. The aid will be in the form of kits for displaced families. The proposed kit will consist of two mosquito nets, two blankets, one kitchen set and sanitary towels.

In January, aid organisation Direct Relief International also dispatched $50 000 in emergency funds, which was also matched by an anonymous donor in the UK. The money will be used to help provide critically needed medicines and supplies. The organisation’s relief, on the advice of their regional medical advisor, was primarily focused on the core violence ridden areas of Naivasha, Nakuru and Limuru.

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