IRIN News Briefs [19991123]

IRIN News Briefs [19991123]

EAST AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs, Tuesday 23 November


KENYA: Food situation in northwest critical KENYA: MPs form committee to monitor relief operations KENYA: Food insecurity in pastoral areas KENYA: Health ministry confirms radiation UGANDA: Karamoja district still insecure UGANDA: Karamoja food insecurity may worsen UGANDA: Thousands displaced in Purongo UGANDA: Survey indicates improved IDP nutritional status UGANDA: UN launches appeal TANZANIA: Total debt cancellation not feasible

KENYA: Food situation in northwest critical

Kenya's State Minister in the Office of the President Shariff Nassir on Friday confirmed that the food situation in the Turkana district of northwestern Kenya is critical, the Kenya Television Network (KTN) reported. He said from his assessment of the situation, he could not rule out the possibility of deaths having occurred in remote parts of the district due to lack of food. Nassir said the district will now receive 7,000 bags of maize monthly. He appealed to members of the Turkana community not to flee to neighbouring countries, saying that the government "will seek long-term solutions" to food problems in the arid and semi-arid districts. Humanitarian agencies say some 250,000 people are faced with starvation in the district. WFP said it was still waiting for official communication from the Kenyan government.

KENYA: MPs form committee to monitor relief operations

Meanwhile, nine members of parliament from north and northwestern Kenya have formed a committee to oversee the distribution of relief food in the area, the 'Daily Nation' newspaper reported. The move followed the sacking of four chiefs and the suspension of 25 others in connection with the theft of relief food and cattle rustling activities.

KENYA: Food insecurity in pastoral areas

Kenya's pastoral areas are still faced with food insecurity accentuated by two successive poor seasons, USAID's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) reported. It said the "dismal" short rains were likely to erode grazing resources. FEWS added that several areas were now highly susceptible to livestock raiding. In the marginal agricultural areas, heightened food insecurity had been caused by increasing frequency of crop failures. FEWS said the coping strategies in these areas were overstretched, whereas in the agro-pastoral areas there had been a decline in the grazing indicators such as water and pasture following poor long rains earlier this year. The Kenyan government and various international NGOs have already put in place interventions in the food, water, livestock and health sectors. However, it was difficult to establish the extent to which these interventions had re-addressed the current needs, FEWS said.

KENYA: Health ministry confirms radiation

Kenya's Permanent Secretary in the ministry of health, Professor Julius Meme, last week confirmed that about 20,000 people may have been affected by radiation due to a 21 km section of road containing radioactive compounds in the Coast Province, the 'Daily Nation' reported. It is believed that the workers on the road in May unknowingly scooped tons of rocks containing thorium from the nearby Mrima hill, and used it to repair the road. Meme has directed that people who could have been exposed to the radioactive substance be medically examined.

UGANDA: Karamoja area still insecure

Insecurity and drought are combining to worsen the humanitarian situation in the Karamoja districts of Moroto and Kotido, OCHA-Uganda said in its latest report. Efforts by civil society, government officials and the Ugandan army to engage the Karamojong people in dialogue and disarmament were continuing and initiatives to counter the chronic under-development of the area were also being discussed. "Both Kotido and Moroto districts continue to experience violent incidents as the security situation fluctuates considerably," OCHA noted. It said UN staff members were required to travel in convoys of at least two vehicles.

UGANDA: Karamoja food insecurity may worsen

The OCHA report said that while there were areas which had average harvests, many households had experienced "complete crop failure" attributed to poor rains or pests "which if not controlled could affect the whole area". It quoted USAID's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) and WFP as saying tick-borne diseases in Jie and Dodoth counties of Kotido district could adversely affect the usual coping mechanisms. So far, the bumper harvest of last year was offsetting the gravity of the current food situation. It was expected, however, that as the season progressed food insecurity would become more acute and prices would rise. The May-August 2000 pre-harvest lean season "will be particularly precarious".

UGANDA: Thousands displaced in Purongo

About 9,000 people have been displaced in the Purongo sub-county of Gulu district, following a spate of rebel attacks on their homes and communities in September and October, OCHA reported. They were moved to five camps close to army units, west of Gulu town, for protection.

UGANDA: Survey indicates improved IDP nutritional status

The preliminary results of an Action Contre la Faim (ACF) nutritional survey in October in Gulu's displaced people's camps found a significant improvement in the nutritional situation. ACF said both severe and global malnutrition had decreased in the population surveyed. "It appears that many of the remaining cases of severe malnutrition reflect either a particularly vulnerable social situation or a temporary lack of adequate food and water for children, perhaps due to intense efforts at cultivation away from camps over the past months," OCHA reported. A similar assessment was now underway in Kitgum and results should be available in December. OCHA said many IDPs in Gulu and Kitgum were spending more time working on their farms during the daytime.

UGANDA: UN launches appeal

A UN consolidated inter-agency appeal for Uganda is seeking over US $56 million to help address the needs of people affected by insecurity and natural disasters. The projects identified are water, health and nutrition, food security and production, education and psycho-social support, emergency response and preparedness, and multi-sectoral assistance to refugees. The appeal focuses on three war-affected regions - the Rwenzoris (Kabarole, Bundibugyo, Kasese), Gulu-Kitgum in the north and Karamoja (Moroto, Kotido) in the northeast.

TANZANIA: Total debt cancellation not feasible

Donor countries on Friday said the total cancellation of Tanzania's foreign debt was "not feasible," but agreed the debts should be reduced to a an acceptable level. An official at the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam told IRIN on Tuesday that the donors stressed Tanzania needed to realise and accept its obligation to repay its loans, but that this should be sustainable.


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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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