Absa Bank Kenya joined hands with World Vison and the County Government of Kitui to enable over 2,000 families bounce back to normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on their economic and food security status. The bank donated Ksh4 million to farmers in Yatta village, through the Kitui County Government under its food security enhancement programme.

The Program seeks to address the effects of perennial drought on the residents of Kitui. The funds will be used to procure drought tolerant seed varieties (Green grams, cow peas and sorghum) which will be distributed by World Vision. According to Absa Bank Marketing & Communications Director Ms. Caroline Ndungu the initiative is aligned to the bank’s commitment to being a force for good in the society, sustainably and collectively bringing the possibilities of communities to life.

“As we mark our first anniversary as Absa in Kenya, we acknowledge the power of standing as one, with our people, confronting our challenges and pursuing opportunities together. We have been intentional in contributing to various initiatives that drive sustainable economic growth as well as support the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Ms. Ndungu.

“What we thought would be more sustainable and meaningful is an intervention that could help the farmers in Kitui to produce more food for themselves and their families and even for their community and that is why we have partnered with World Vision to deliver this,” added Ms. Ndungu.

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On their part, World Vision, through their Country Director lauded the move and called on more organizations to join hands to cushion farmers affected by the pandemic.

“At World Vision, we are committed to helping communities affected by natural disasters to not only survive, but recover and thrive. Our mandate is focused on building productive and resilient livelihoods that directly support all aspects of families’ wellbeing. We can make a difference if governments, international donors and the corporate sector combine efforts and act swiftly to meet the needs of affected communities,” says World Vision National Director, Lilian Dodzo.

Receiving the funds on behalf of the farmers was Kitui County Governor, H.E Charity Ngilu who called on corporate organizations and individuals to collaborate towards alleviating the chronic food insecurity challenge affecting communities.

“The Ndengu Revolution and horticultural crop farming’ is a flagship programme that we started in order to enhance food security by supporting sustainable alternative livelihood recovery operations within the county. It is our hope that more organizations will come on board and help us put an end to food insecurity which has been a challenge for many years,” said Governor Ngilu.

Over the years, Kitui County has had chronic food insecurity and has depended on food aid. According to Lower Yatta Aridland Development Programme 2016 baseline report, 87.9% of the households indicated that there were months in which they did not have enough food to meet their family dietary needs with 76.7% of households reporting lack of sufficient food for a period between 4 -10 months. 76.3% of households reported reduction in size and number of meals, 76.3% went for days without food and 85% changed diet to less preferred foods as an adaptive short term coping strategy.

Speaking at the event, Absa’ Director of Corporate and Institutional Banking James Agin stated that the bank’s ambition is to become a leading, purpose-orientated, African bank that is systemically rooted in the countries it serves, a business that recognizes that its growth is directly linked to the growth of the communities it operates in.

“We are alive to the fact that businesses do not operate in a vacuum; they are built by people, operated by people and serve people on a daily basis. Therefore, one can argue that successful businesses are those that, at the core, care about the people more so during this COVID-19 period. This is a mantra that we strongly believe in and one that we have continued to uphold over the years” said Agin.

Kitui Governor further said that the county government would continue working with organizations and individuals who are keen on projects that have a positive impact on the lives of Kitui residents and enable economic progress within the county.

Kitui County is among the areas in Kenya that face perennial hunger and water problems. It is a food-insecure area – marginal agricultural and Agro-pastoral region. Residents not only face food insecurity, but also water scarcity.

The most affected areas are Mwingi North, Mwingi Central, Kitui East, Kitui South, and Kitui rural subcounty. The food insecurity situation in Kitui County has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 situation that has left many caregivers jobless hence, loss of livelihood.

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