The ASAL region of Kenya continues to suffer from a severe drought (2020 – 2022) that has been termed as the most severe and longest in forty years. Its widespread impacts on livelihoods are grinding harsh as over 4.35 million Kenyans across 23 counties are affected.
Over 900,000 children and 120,000 pregnant and lactating mothers require urgent nutritional support in these counties. President William Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua have both recently described the situation as urgent and dire, calling on the private sector to partner with the government and contribute toward sending relief to the affected people.
The private sector has responded to this clarion call and so far, several organizations have contributed and sent relief to the affected Counties.
On October 4, 2022, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) held a meeting to discuss and agree on their response to the current drought situation in the Country.
Representatives from different sectors of the private sector and development partners discussed opportunities available to provide additional assistance to the affected communities including modalities for working with the Government and other stakeholders, in responding to both the emergency situation as well as finding a long- term solution to hunger due to food insecurity.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) also organized a fundraising on October 28 where over KSh. 100 billion was contributed and handed over to the Red Cross which would foresee the relief distribution. The union was hailed for its proactivity and kind response to the country’s current struggle.
Individual celebrities and companies have not been left behind as well. Veteran gospel singer Reuben Kigame, together with MPs from drought-stricken counties recently launched the Okoa Maisha Initiative through which Kenyans can contribute to help people at the highest risk of starvation.
The secretariat targets to support at least one million people for the next six months. Another example is KCB Foundation which recently donated food items to the Kajiado County Government to support the drought-stricken in the county.
These gestures are lauded and welcomed as the private sector has practically shown its commitment to supporting the communities where they operate.
However, businesses have a bigger role to play in terms of prevention, mitigation, and adaptation to climate change and how they support their communities to do the same. It is incumbent on businesses that they are part of the long-lasting solution in dealing with climate change and its effects and impacts.
Businesses that truly care have to seriously reconsider the impacts of their operations on their people and the planet.
How much is your carbon footprint? Are you empowering communities to diversify income? Are you helping farmers adapt to regenerative agriculture? Are you responsible in how you use the limited scarce resources such as water? Is your supply chain sustainable? Have you invested in renewable energy sources such as solar?
We must answer these tough questions because it is through them that we will together forge toward a better planet and society. We must be honest with ourselves and collaborate to tackle climate change and build a resilient nation.
This ongoing drought and the impacts we can all witness must motivate us to take action. Kenya needs more than your monetary support – we need your will to build a sustainable business and community.