Kenyan sisters organise aid for famine victims

 Kenya's women religious have expressed their solidarity with an estimated 3.5 million Kenyans struggling with severe food and water shortages following widespread drought. The Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK) organised a special Mass at which they donated and collected food and money. Archbishop Raphael Ndingi mwana 'a Nzeki of the Archdiocese of Nairobi celebrated the Mass yesterday, at the Holy Family Basilica. "Touched by the gesture of solidarity of 50 000 Kenyan prisoners who, in need of food themselves, freely chose to fast on New Year's Day to bring relief to the suffering victims of famine, we recognise the challenge to all of us who are materially advantaged to share with those who are in greater need," AOSK chairperson, Sr Mary Paul Wamatu, said. She said the famine was a national crisis. "The first victims are those who have died directly from lack of food and water. But there is also an economic implication for the whole country as fresh fruit, vegetable and meat prices soar due to this severe shortage." The government declared the famine ravaging North, Eastern, Coast and Rift Valley provinces a national disaster on New Year's Day. The extreme food shortage follows failure of rains in two consecutive seasons. At least 40 people reportedly starved to death around Christmas. The sisters urged the government to not only increase national food production but also improve infrastructure to enable easy movement of food throughout the country. Parts of Western Kenya and the North Rift have recorded a bumper harvest of maize, leading to a lack of market. The government should find a long-term solution to the recurrent famine, the sisters said. And the solution should include developing the arid and semi-arid areas which have been neglected since independence. Source: CISA

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