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Kenya facing mass starvation: Aid group

The Church World Service aid agencies is warning that "immediate, massive intervention and assistance" are needed to prevent mass starvation in Kenya.
Workers load grain on to a truck at the UN World Food Program warehouse in Mombasa, Kenya. ((Tom Maliti/Associated Press))
The Church World Service aid agencies is warning that "immediate, massive intervention and assistance" are needed to prevent mass starvation in Kenya.

A team from the humanitarian agency reported recently that many fields barren and cracked, dried out by the drought that is threatening a third of the east African country's population, or about 10 million people.

What was once among the most fertile land in Africa can now only support a few struggling plants suitable only for grazing cattle.

"We don't have any food," farmer Lizy Bimba, a Kwale resident, said in Swahili.

In one area, a local official reported that 85 per cent of 5,600 people are facing starvation, the Church World Service team said.

Other farmers have left the land to find what work they can. 

"We have been forced to do this so that we get money to buy food," Musa Charo said in Swahili as he broke rocks to earn money to feed his 10 children.

The government declared the food shortage a national disaster on Jan. 16, the UN is appealing for international help and aid agencies warn that the problem will only get worse.

 
The drought which has caused a food shortage in Kenya has been made worse speculation, according to Gabrielle Menezes of the UN World Food Programme. ((CBC))
"High food prices which rose dramatically at the beginning of last year have made it more difficult for poor people to buy food, and secondly, the drought which  … has caused the crops to fail, particularly in southeastern Kenya, and lastly there has been speculation," said Gabrielle Menezes, an information officer for UN World Food Programme.

Violence following the December 2007 election displaced thousands of farmers. Food prices spiked  and now the drought has left parts of the country parched and cracked.

But the speculation has become a national scandal. Politicians have been accused of hoarding grain inflate prices, and even selling  the food abroad.

The government has said it's investigating.

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