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Overseas Aid helps poor Kenyan families

News | Published:

THE Overseas Aid & Development Commission has committed £36,000 to support 200 families in a slum in Kenya.

Peter Sarl, a director of School Farms Africa.

A request for support came from the Guernsey-based charity School Farms Africa in the form of flour, beans, rice, milk, cooking oil, charcoal and medical supplies to the people of Kibera, just outside Nairobi.

The grant will support more than 1,000 people for 13 weeks and help alleviate the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on families whose children attend the Kibera Free Methodist Academy.

The Kibera Project was established seven years ago to help the school of about 300 children situated in the middle of Africa’s biggest slum.

School Farms Africa was set up to find ways to help those young people who face a life of poverty, disease, abuse and deprivation.

Guernsey resident and director of the charity Peter Sarl said the poor life expectancy and unemployment led many to resort to illegal or unhealthy ways to obtain money such as drug dealing, armed violence and prostitution.

‘Since 2016, the charity has drilled a borehole, built a new kitchen, some new classrooms and toilet facilities at the school with assistance from the Guernsey OA&DC.’

The charity has also purchased 11 acres of land about 20 miles from Nairobi on which to grow food to supplement the diets of the children. Eventually, this will be able to meet more of the needs of the academy in the event of another similar disaster.

‘The pandemic has made things much worse,’ Mr Sarl said. ‘Recent research reported by National Geographic found that 90% of the inhabitants of Kibera now have no income at all.

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‘A strictly-enforced curfew and poor mobility mean that people have limited opportunity to seek food and any found disobeying the rules risk being beaten or even shot by the police.’

Only last week a young Kiberan, Brian Otieno, said people have heard about the coronavirus but many are struggling to get enough food to stay alive so don’t have the spare time to even worry about the virus.

Mr Sarl said: ‘This incredible grant from the commission will enable us to provide food for around 1,200 people for three months, during which it is hoped the pandemic will ease and families will once again be able to provide for themselves – even though in the better times they only earn about £1.60 a day on average.

‘We wish we could help the entire community of up to 700,00 people but it has been a real blessing to be able to help just a small portion of Kibera to get through the pandemic.’

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OA&DC president Deputy Emilie McSwiggan said Covid-19 has had a devastating effect all around the world, particularly on communities that are much less resilient than our own.

The United Nations recently reported that the Nairobi area has one of the highest virus attack rates in Kenya and is a Covid-19 hot spot.

The report added that there will be an estimated 3 to 3.5 million food insecure people in Kenya as the needs peak in June and July and approximately 1.7 million are projected to be affected in the urban slums, where the most significant shocks faced in terms of food security are increases in food prices and decreases in income or the loss of jobs.

In April, the commission agreed to support the States’ own Covid-19 response.

Zoe Fitch

By Zoe Fitch
News reporter

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