USAID Programs in KenyaDuring the closing weeks of July 2022, most of the world experienced a global heatwave that brought about soaring temperatures. Even many cities in the United States experienced temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, while many Americans enjoyed their indoor air conditioning, the same cannot be said for those living in poverty across the globe.

Effects of the Global Heatwave

The abnormally high temperatures that the world experienced in July were only a taste of what countries in eastern Africa have been experiencing for the last several months. This extreme heat can have detrimental effects on people living in developing countries as it significantly hampers food production and crop yield from farming. Kenya is experiencing some of the worst droughts, with many farmers losing 70% of their crops since May and more than 2 million livestock deaths.

Extreme Heat and Sickness

Extremely hot temperatures can also lead directly to sickness, especially in children. Many pathogens thrive better in hot water and food which can cause illnesses. Furthermore, reduced livestock production due to heat-related deaths means that children cannot consume high protein meals which further contributes to rising malnutrition levels.

Extreme heat experienced by children was shown to increase the rate of chronic malnutrition by 12% according to a study at Princeton University.

Other Issues Affecting The Food Supply

There are other issues affecting food supply and crop production besides extreme heat waves. The International Rescue Committee recently updated its Emergency Watchlist indicating that many countries in Eastern Africa could be facing imminent catastrophe if they do not receive international aid soon. Countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are on the precipice of a devastating famine that could affect millions.

This famine comes as a result of a drastic decrease in food production in Ukraine due to the nation’s recent conflict with Russia. Nearly 90% of East Africa’s wheat consumption came from Ukraine and Russia. This coupled with the severe droughts already crippling food production within their own countries, east Africa is in a dire situation.

USAID Programs in Kenya

Although the outlook for Kenya appears bleak, many countries are taking up the mantle to support these struggling nations. The United States through its USAID agency has promised to provide Kenya with $235 million dollars to help alleviate the hunger of nearly 900,000 children living through severe malnutrition, according to its website. This money will provide emergency food, nutritional aid, support for farmers and clean water to more than 1 million people in Kenya. This program may prove to be pivotal in preventing the worst famine of the 21st century.

Preventing a Food Crisis

Although Kenya is on a path toward famine, many countries like the United States have made significant contributions toward preventing this famine in Eastern Africa. Despite extreme heatwaves and droughts, as well as reduced global food production, millions of lives can be saved thanks to the efforts of USAID programs in Kenya providing emergency monetary relief.

The International Rescue Committee has made it clear that these countries are in desperate need of more emergency relief lest they face a famine crisis. Hopefully, the precedent set by the United States will encourage more relief for the millions struggling in Kenya and Eastern Africa.

Declan Harkness
Photo: Unsplash

USAID programs in Kenya
Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy created the United States Agency for International Development in 1961. Kennedy’s goal was to spearhead the United States’ international development and humanitarian initiatives. Additionally, the highest executive position is the Administrator of the USAID. This position’s responsibilities include executing foreign aid programs under the guidance of the President. Furthermore, the Administrator of the USAID selects members of the President’s cabinet and the State Department. USAID coordinates with different levels of the United States government. As a result, this agency often works closely with the State Department to achieve common goals. USAID programs in Kenya also contribute to the global economy and aid in alleviating global poverty.

USAID’s mission statement is to dedicate itself to the promotion of democratic values in its works and advance freedom and prosperity. As such, USAID is well-integrated into the United States’ foreign policy vectors and gives perspective in improving the lives of many in the developing world.

Mark Green is the most recent non-acting Administrator for USAID since 2017. USAID’s agenda underwent reorientation and Administrator Mark Green’s tenure resulted in the reframing of its definition of foreign assistance. Journey to Self-reliance is a new policy that emerged to reforge all existing USAID policies and strategies.

USAID’s Program Cycle’s policies and decisions reinforced its initiatives. In addition, an evaluative set of processes regarding a structured cycle of self-examination, planning, implementation and re-examination of outcomes helps countries become more self-reliant.

USAID Today in Kenya

USAID programs in Kenya have been making a difference for more than 60 years. Kenya received $540 million in aid from USAID in the 2019 fiscal year. Thus, this ranks Kenya as the fourth most-funded African country. As a result, USAID programs in Kenya provide more than the average $144 million funding that these regions typically receive. The HIV/AIDS sector receives the greatest amount of aid from USAID. It contributes a total of $260 million.

Kenya’s performance scores of self-reliance lag behind the average low and middle-income countries. However, Kenya surges ahead in having an open and accountable government. Yet, Kenya’s safety and security rates at 33 points out of 100. This is significantly lower than the statistical average. Thus, the nation’s lowest-performing index is the poverty rate. Kenya’s poverty rate is a mere 14 out of 100, whereas the statistical average rests at 44.

USAID Programs’ Focuses

USAID programs in Kenya have three primary focuses. First, it aims to effectively implement governmental devolution. This requires devolving the powers of the central government to regional bodies. Second, it aims to strengthen the health and human capacities of Kenyans. Lastly, it has the goal of driving environmentally sustainable economic growth.

Kenya’s economy is the largest and most diverse economy in all of East Africa. It serves as an important trading hub for the African continent. However, agriculture makes up the backbone of Kenya’s economy today. Agriculture provides an obvious pathway for economic development and poverty reduction. Furthermore, agribusiness accounts for roughly 40% of Kenya’s overall workforce and roughly a quarter of its annual GDP.

As an example of the United States government’s integrated approach to foreign aid, USAID’s Feed the Future initiative is currently improving social, business and human health in Kenya by increasing productivity and income. Moreover, its greater agenda is to develop a more effective and sustainable agricultural future.

– Marshall Wu
Photo: Flickr