Making the Case: A national drought contingency fund for Kenya | Oxfam | Drought

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The critical failure in Kenya’s system of drought management is its slow response. A national drought contingency fund should be established to ensure timely, appropriate, and adequate intervention aimed at mitigating the impact of drought-related crises. Recurrent drought may be an inevitable fact of life in Kenya, but the human suffering it causes is not.
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    Oxfam Briefing Paper    89 EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 HRS GMT TUESDAY 16 MAY 2006 Making the case  A national drought contingency fund for Kenya The critical failure in Kenya’s system of drought management is its slow response. A national drought contingency fund should be established to ensure timely, appropriate, and adequate intervention aimed at mitigating the impact of drought-related crises. Recurrent drought may be an inevitable fact of life in Kenya, but the human suffering it causes is not.   This will require: ã Renewed effort from the Government of Kenya to produce a proposal and to push it through the political system during the current national emergency; ã  Active support from the international donor community for the establishment and financing of the national drought contingency fund; and ã Collective agreement between the Government of Kenya and international donors on effective mechanisms for the disbursal and accountability of such funds. Making the case,  Oxfam International Briefing Paper, May 2006 3    1 Introduction: The erosion of livelihoods in Kenya’s ASALs Poverty in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) is at least ten per cent above national poverty rates. 2  Recent studies indicate that pastoralist wealth in certain districts of northern Kenya has declined by more than 50 per cent over the past 10 years. 3  Alarmingly, Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates in excess of the internationally recognised emergency threshold of 15 per cent are now perceived as the norm in these districts. In this context, a national drought contingency fund is not a panacea for the under-development of Kenya’s ASALs or for the marginalisation of the people who live there. But it is a tool that can mitigate some of the consequences of drought and facilitate more timely provision of relief when it is required. Humanitarian action should not be considered an alternative to developing durable solutions to the chronic problems of people affected by drought. Corrective measures must be taken by the Government of Kenya (GoK), with the support of the international community, to address the underlying structural causes of vulnerability. For this reason, it is essential that the government’s proposed National Policy for the Sustainable Development of the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands of Kenya is prioritised politically and adopted by Parliament. 4  Furthermore, a robust disaster management policy — one in which the proposed drought contingency fund is an important tool — must be developed as an integral component of this development policy. 2 The argument for a national drought contingency fund The Early Warning System (EWS) in operation in Kenya’s ASALs is arguably one of the strongest in sub-Saharan Africa, 5  but without a corresponding early response mechanism it is like a smoke alarm without fire extinguishers. In October 2005 the EWS began raising the alarm about the deterioration of an already critical situation in northern Kenya. However, no measures were taken by the GoK until late December, in part due to a lack of immediate funds. While the humanitarian consequences of the current crisis are not due entirely to late response, it is widely recognised that earlier intervention could have limited the damage to the livelihoods of those affected. Making the case,  Oxfam International Briefing Paper, May 2006 4
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