26 March 2011

Kenya: USADF Holds Ceremony in Lodwar, Northern Kenya to Launch Turkana Food Security Program

Photo: Anthony Morland/IRIN
A Turkana girl waters camels from a hole dug in a dry river bed near Kenya’s border with Uganda. Increasing drought has obliged pastoralists to travel further in their search for pasture and water. This often brings them into conflict with rival pastoralist communities.

press release

The United States African Development Foundation (USADF), along with United States Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger , Kenyan Members of Parliament, local District Commissioners, and members of the local community, held a ceremony today in Lodwar, Kenya to officially launch the five year, $10 million Turkana Food Security Program. The ceremony is the second event in Kenya this week, marking the official start of USADF funding in Turkana, a region of Northern Kenya known for arid temperatures and scarce food supply.

People living in the Lake Turkana Region of Kenya are some of the most marginalized people on the continent. Many are not formally educated and few have access to jobs.   Projects targeted for initial funding will focus on irrigation, livestock, and fisheries. The investments will help support the production of food and provide produce that can be sold at local markets for income. USADF will be working with a local partner in Turkana to provide assistance to grantees to ensure sustainability of projects.

USADF, an independent foreign assistance arm of the United States Government, will invest US$2M annually for 5 years to support economic development and income generation projects in the arid regions around Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya. These projects will be designed and led by the community members themselves, with support and funding from USADF. The region has been plagued by drought, conflicts, and limited infrastructure that has resulted in high levels of unemployment and limited availability of food.

USADF Chairman Jack Leslie opened the ceremony, saying, "We are very excited to be in Lodwar amongst community members to launch the Turkana Food Security Program. USADF is focused on working directly with communities to address community needs by implementing projects that create jobs and increase food production."

Following Mr. Leslie's remarks, U.S. Ambassador Michael Rannebeger said, "The United States is committed to working with Kenyans, and this program funded by the USADF is further proof of that commitment. Turkana is a region that is very important, and I look forward to seeing the wonderful results that will come out of these projects."

Local District Commissioners from Lodwar, along with Members of Parliament who represent Turkana, were also in attendance, and spoke about the importance of economic development assistance focusing on food security projects in Turkana. Nearly 75% of the population in the region relies upon food aid for their livelihoods.

After the event, the delegation traveled to Napeikar Irrigation Project, the site of one of USADF's first projects in Turkana. The project, designed with local community members, will focus on developing plans to improve the irrigation infrastructure at the Napeikar irrigation site. The plan will also detail which crops are best suited to the area and suggest improvements to agricultural practices. The end result is to increase food production and create new jobs.

The United States African Development Foundation (USADF) is an independent foreign assistance arm of the United States Government dedicated to expanding access to economic opportunities to marginalized populations in Africa. Currently, USADF operates in 21 Sub-Saharan African countries. Over the past 25 years, USADF has funded in excess of $200 million in African initiated and led development projects.   For more information on USADF, its programs and application guidelines, visit www.usadf.gov.

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