Thursday, March 06, 2008

Action Aid – Maintaining Focus

While much of the world has been fixated on the violence that followed flawed elections in Keny’s presidential elections in December of 2007, hard working NGOs have been able to keep a focus on other problems in the country as well.

Below is a report published by ActionAid on February 29, 2008 trying to raise awareness about a drought that is threatening lives in of people as well as livestock in Kenya.


Kenya’s pastoralist communities in crisis

29 February 2008

Drought threatens North Eastern Province and areas of the southern Coast region.

“Pastoralist people are facing crisis in Kenya’s North Eastern Province (bordering Somalia) and in some neighbouring districts of Coast province, because of drought and the consequent pressure on grazing land warns ActionAid.

Enrico Eminae, ActionAid’s coordinator in North Eastern Province warned that 35,000 pastoralists in Takaba district are already at risk.

He said: "People in over 28 trading centres in Takaba are relying on water delivered in trucks because shallow wells and water pans have dried up.

"For pastoralist communities in particular, lack of water signals hunger because their livestock, their only source of food and income, are at much greater risk. “It also triggers conflict over resources as different clans crisscross each other’s territory in search of pasture and water."

Current flashpoints

In Sericho, the Ewaso Ngiro flood plains have dried up with the river receding to about 100km upstream. Communities have to rely on shallow wells dug into the now dry riverbed.

The situation in Takaba is even more fragile as pastoralists congregate around Takaba town with their livestock in search of water.• Conflict has occurred in the villages of Darwed, Didkuro and Wangaidahan as pastoralists move in search of alternative livelihoods.

In Tana River and Ganze (Coast Region), pastoralists are also on the move. Grazing and water areas are diminishing fast and resources are overstretched.

Enrico Eminae concluded: "Animals' health is deteriorating fast. If the long rains fail in March there could well be a crisis. Even if rain falls, the pastoralists' situation is now so fragile, that flash floods could easily compromise the survival of their animals."

No one would argue that the post election violence in Kenya was not an extremely news story and it deserved the degree of attention that it received from the global media. Unfortunately, much of the media attention contained elements of distortion that placed an unwarranted amount of blame for the violence in the early days on ethnic strife. Now that the sensational “photo ops” are no longer in abundance, many of the journalists who were hanging on every new development in that story have left Kenya in search of newer sensational stories.

This pattern of behavior by the major press outlets in the western world make it difficult for organizations like ActionAid to educate the world about other problems that need to be addressed as well; and they are reduced to releasing their own statements about matters of life and death that don’t make it to the major newspapers and television broadcasts.


Who They Are:
In their own words: "ActionAid is a unique partnership of people who are fighting for a world without poverty, in which every person can exercise their right to a life of dignity. We work with poor and marginalised people to help eradicate poverty by overcoming the injustice and inequity that cause it."

How They work
“We work with poor and marginalised communities to help them recognise, promote and secure their basic rights, and control their own development.”

Their Strategy
“In 2005, ActionAid agreed a new international strategy, Rights to end poverty, which sets clear and ambitious priorities to guide our staff and partners over the next five years. Our strategy tackles head-on the unacceptable truth that poverty and injustice remain deeply entrenched in many parts of the globe.

If we are to fulfil our mission to eradicate poverty and injustice, we must take sides with poor and excluded people and communities and help them to secure their rights.

Women’s rights and gender equality offer the key to poverty reduction and achieving them is a central focus of our strategy.

We will bring greater focus and depth while continuing to work on the areas of education, food and HIV and AIDS.

To these we have added new priorities, developing our policy and programme work on human security in situations of violent conflict and emergencies, and on democracy and governance.

Strategic priorities:

women’s rights
the right to education
the right to food
the right to human security in conflict and emergencies
the right to life and dignity in the face of HIV and AIDS
the right to just and democratic governance
The strategy provides clear direction for organising and governing the growing ActionAid family and its relationships with the outside world. It sets out how we will make ourselves more accountable, both to the poor and excluded people with whom we work and to our supporters and funders.”


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