Turkish delegation visits Kenya to assess drought


A high-level delegation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey on Thursday visited Kenya to discuss the drought which has left more than 3.7 million people in the country facing starvation.

Kenyan Agriculture Minister Willy Bett seized the opportunity to ask Turkey and the OIC to help raise 11.1 billion Kenya shillings ($106 million) to fight the drought in the country.

"We would appreciate any assistance from Turkey to help us to fight the drought that has hit Kenya. Turkey has given Kenyans food aid before, when you [Turkey] saw that we were suffering you saw the need of coming to help," Bett said.

The sum constitutes the third part of a budget the Kenyan government prepared to mitigate the effects of the drought. The first and second phases amounted to 5.4 billion Kenya shillings (roughly $52 million) and 11.6 billion Kenya shillings (roughly $112 million) respectively.

The agriculture minister has been facing criticism over the drought. Two weeks ago, he was questioned by a parliamentary committee to explain why the country was facing a food shortage. The cost of food, especially maize used to make Kenya's staple dish ugali, has doubled compared to last year.

The Turkish and OIC delegation were on an East African tour that aims at raising awareness about the drought affecting the Horn of Africa region.

"More and more people will need help," Hesham Youssef, the assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs at the OIC, told Anadolu Agency. "We wanted to see how the OIC member states and other different partners in these countries can assist the people in Kenya."

The devastating drought is due to a period of low rainfall associated with the La Nina effect that follows the El Nino rains.

According to the United Nations and other aid organizations, more than 11 million people in East Africa are facing starvation. Hundreds of thousands of livestock have died due to a lack of pasture in the region.

Turkish Ambassador to Kenya Deniz Eke told Anadolu Agency the delegation was told by the Kenyan agriculture minister that the drought was worsening.

"Turkey is working [...] on drought relief efforts through TIKA [the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency], the Turkish Red Crescent and Turkish NGOs to provide food for those areas in Kenya where major populations are hard hit by the drought," she said.

After Nairobi, the delegation will be visiting Juba in South Sudan and Somalia, a country that has been designated as the most hard-hit in East Africa.

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