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Cargill’s rice donation now reaching families in drought-stricken areas of the Horn of Africa

View the Horn of Africa rice distribution slide show.
View the Horn of Africa rice distribution slide show.

Cargill’s donation of 10,000 metric tons (22 million pounds) of rice to World Food Program USA is now reaching some of the people most in need in Kenya. The rice will feed nearly one million people for one month.

The worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa, coupled with high food prices and conflict in Somalia, has affected some 13 million people throughout the region. Although rains have now started, millions of people remain in need of food aid until the next harvest. 

View the Horn of Africa rice distribution video on YouTube.
View the Horn of Africa rice distribution video on YouTube.

“This food assistance goes a long way in helping people here,” said Gladys Njema, a single mother of three children, during a distribution at Vyambani in the Kilifi District of Coast Province, Kenya. She is a farmer who plants maize, peas and other crops, but says nothing has grown in the past two years. “People here eat rice maybe once a year, on special occasions. It’s considered something of a gem. It’s not easy to come by for community members, so it’s something we really appreciate.”

In order to contribute the 200,000, 50 kg (110 pound) bags of rice, Cargill sourced the grain, and managed the ocean transportation and logistics. It chartered a vessel, arranged for the purchase and bagging of rice at mills in India and oversaw the ship’s loading at Kakinada, India. Following a 23-day voyage across the Indian Ocean, the grain arrived in port at Mombasa, Kenya. The donation’s value is approximately $5 million. This donation was matched by money raised by WFP USA from American individuals which supported the costs related to distributing the food throughout Kenya.

Cargill’s rice donation is supporting the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) efforts in nine districts mainly in northeastern Kenya, where some of the largest food needs in the Horn exist. WFP has been scaling up its operations to reach more of the 3.75 million people who have been impacted by drought and rising food prices in Kenya. 

Among those most vulnerable are children under age two who can suffer irreversible damage to their minds and bodies if malnourished and receive special nutritional products to address their specific needs. “It touched me so much as I watched the food distribution in six villages of the Kilifi District to see the rice Cargill donated going to those who need it,” said Ivan

Fernandes, Cargill Kenya country manager. “We are a company that moves food from areas of surplus to areas of need, everyday. This donation has allowed us to use our unique capabilities to help those in need—and that’s been very gratifying.”

In January, more than 32,000 people in the Kilifi District took home rice donated by Cargill. Families also received other food products including yellow split peas and vegetable oil as part of WFP’s ongoing relief and recovery operations in Kenya. Each person receives 7-10 kgs (15-22 pounds) of cereal grains like maize, wheat or rice per month, depending on the severity of the crisis in their region.  

“The past few years have been almost unbearably hard…..because of the stress of trying to feed myself and my children,” said Rachel Gharo, a widow with six children. “With this assistance I can now think of other things, because at least I am assured that there is food.”

Local partners including Kenya Red Cross, World Vision and Diocese of Tharaka are assisting WFP with the rice distribution which is expected to continue through February. “This is the single largest ever corporate food donation to WFP and it’s really making a difference in the lives of people in this part of Africa,” said David Orr, WFP East and Southern Africa spokesman.

 

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