We call upon other corporates and Kenyans across the country to come together as we assist those facing food shortages as a result of the drought, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa makes plea for support for populations facing hunger in Kenya.

Thousands of residents in hunger-stricken Marsabit County have a reason to smile after telecom giant Safaricom flagged off food supplies worth Kes100 million while calling on other firms, and individual well-wishers to join the cause.

In an initiative dubbed Pamoja Tuungane, Safaricom PLC is leading dozens of other companies including at least 12 media houses seeking to raise funds for the purchase and delivery of food to over three million Kenyans who are grappling with famine following three seasons of failed rainfall.

Other counties that are in dire need of food relief are Samburu, Turkana, Wajir, Baringo, Isiolo and Mandera. Further, the situation remains critical for residents in Kwale, Kitui, Garissa, Meru North, Nyeri (Kieni), Laikipia, Lamu, Laikipia, Kilifi, and West Pokot counties.

The above regions are likely to experience normal to below normal March-April-May 2022 spots of rain implying that the recovery of livelihoods in these counties may not be immediate.

“We call upon other corporates and Kenyans across the country to come together as we assist those facing food shortages as a result of the drought,” CEO Peter Ndegwa made the rallying call as Safaricom Foundation and M-PESA Foundation made an initial donation of Kes100 million worth of food.

Already, KCB Group Foundation has pledged an immediate KES2.5 million cash relief support as well as long-term financing through training and equipping farmers to use climate-smart technologies.

“The long-term support to mitigate against climate change is crucial for us, as we will train the farmers from Arid and Semi-Arid counties on climate-resilient practices. This will contribute towards a food-secure future and ensure our communities adapt to survive against the increasing drought patterns” said KCB Group Director, Marketing, Corporate Affairs and Citizenship Rosalind Gichuru.

Read also: LinkedIn ranks Safaricom best company in Kenya for career growth

The Pamoja Tuungane campaign comes as the latest recommendation by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) called for the provision of food assistance and scaling up of cash transfers to households in 23 counties that are currently food insecure as a result of the prevailing drought stress.

Some of the media houses joining Pamoja Tuungane initiative are Nation Media Group, Standard Group, Citizen Digital, Royal Media Services, Radio Africa Group, as well as Mediamax network and they will leverage their reach across Kenya to drive the campaign.

“As an organisation, our mission is to positively influence society with a mandate to be a voice for the voiceless in the community. Right now, the voiceless are fellow Kenyans who have been hard hit by the ongoing drought,” Nation Media Group CEO, Mr Stephen Gitagama, said.

Kenyans from all walks of life can also join in the Pamoja Tuungane initiative by donating their Bonga Points, food, or cash to enable the purchase of food which will be distributed to residents in some of the worst affected counties.

“Safaricom customers can donate by dialing *126# and selecting Pamoja Tuungane,” explained Safaricom CEO.

Marsabit County is one of the worst stricken zones where over 250,000 people are already in dire need of food.

Supermarket chain Naivas will be providing food hampers that Kenyans can buy and donate while also committing to facilitating transportation logistics to desired destinations for the initial donation.

“In as much as we cannot do all the good the world needs, we believe that the world needs all the good we can give,” said David Kimani, Naivas Managing Director at the flag-off ceremony at KICC.

As a homegrown brand, we cannot sit by as our fellow communities are in anguish and it is for this reason that we are honoured to be part of this initiative, added Mr Kimani.

We also know the importance of shifting the community from emergency response to community enablement and capacity building around areas such as agribusiness, noted Mr Ndegwa.

Caroline Wanjeri, KCB Group Foundation head Caroline Wanjeri and Safaricom’s Head of Sustainable Business and Social Impact Karen Basiye flagging off one of the trucks headed to Marsabit County.

“As we flag off these trucks today, we are also well aware that we also need to talk about long-term measures especially given that the main cause of such prolonged droughts is the effect of climate change,” Mr Ndegwa added.

Prof Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs, and Special Programmes noted that over three million citizens across 23 counties in arid and semi-arid regions are at risk of hunger.

She added that the Kes100 million emergency supply flagged off today will provide immediate intervention to roughly 20,000 households in Marsabit.

The CS noted that the State has managed to purchase 11,250 heads of cattle as well as over 3,000 sheep via the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) in the State-backed livestock offtake program.

 The processed/canned meat forms part of the food that is being donated today to starving families.

In the 2022/23 budget, the Treasury allocated Kes46 billion to help address food insecurity in the country.

Previously, Safaricom partnered with the charity Kenya Red Cross to distribute food to famine-stricken families.

“Safaricom has been involved in partnering with the government to ensure that we facilitate mobile money transfers worth Sh1 billion free of charge to respond to drought,” noted Mr Ndegwa.

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Safaricom facilitated Kenyans to transact over Kes4.38 trillion without charge in amounts under Kes1000 in collaboration with the Central Bank of Kenya.

By zero-rating the transactions, Safaricom waived Kes1.7 billion while also boosting the use of digital systems in the ecosystem.

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