Saturday December 5, 2015
By Immaculate Karambu
Travellers stranded after El Niño rains swept off a road at Kambi Karai in West Pokot County, northwestern Kenya November 10, 2015. Kenya is set to benefit from a Sh8.5 billion kitty set aside by the European Union to prevent loss of life and destruction of property in the Horn of Africa region as a result of the ongoing El Niño rains. PHOTO | THE KENYA RED CROSS
The money will be shared out between Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Somali and Uganda, which according to the EU have a combined 14.4 million people affected by the heavy rains so far.
The EU has announced aid of up to Sh13.5 billion to finance emergency actions in countries affected by the El Niño rains in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America.
“We need to react now so El Niño does not undermine the efforts in poverty alleviation in many countries in the world that have fought so hard to achieve. Today the EU is boosting its efforts to prevent a crisis that could cause instability in the longer term,” said European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica.
EU expects the current El Niño to be the strongest on record surpassing a similar one that was experienced between 1997 and 1998.
Of the total amount EU has allocated for the humanitarian aid, Sh12.9 billion will come from the European Development Fund Reserves and Sh648 million from the humanitarian budget.
The funds will be utilised to save lives and increase resilience in the affected countries to mitigate further damage and address immediate needs of water, shelter, health and nutrition.
The financing comes at a time when the World Bank has announced a Sh1.6 trillion budget to help African countries build resilience to climate change shocks.
In September, the government said that it had set aside Sh5 billion and put on standby 70,000 National Youth Service members in readiness for the El Niño rains.
A similar move by counties to set aside as much as Sh50 million for a similar cause has however been criticised with those opposed to the allocations saying that it may lead to embezzlement of funds by county authorities.
Mid last month, the cabinet secretary for the National Treasury Henry Rotich scaled down the country’s growth prospects for this year due to the El Niño rains which he said slowed down business activity across various sectors.