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Emergency Aid To African School Farm Agreed

Overseas Aid & Development agrees to support Guernsey based charity School Farms Africa for £36,000 to provide food, cooking oil, and medical supplies, to a slum outside Nairobi in Kenya.

The grant will support over 1,000 people for 13 weeks and will help alleviate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on 200 families whose children attend the Kibera Free Methodist Academy.

Peter Sarl, Director of School Farms Africa and Guernsey resident, said, “The Kibera Project was established in 2013 to help Kibera Free Methodist Academy, a small school of about 300 children situated in the middle of Africa's biggest slum.

The Guernsey charity, School Farms Africa, was set up to find ways to help these young people who face a life of abject poverty, disease, abuse and deprivation. Life expectancy is in the mid 30's with 20% of children not reaching their fifth birthday.

Unemployment at the best of times, and before the pandemic, is over 50% and those that do have work are mostly poorly paid labourers. It is no wonder that many resort to illegal or unhealthy ways to obtain money. Drug dealing, armed violence and prostitution are common.

Since 2016 the charity has drilled a borehole, built a new kitchen, some new classrooms and toilet facilities at the school with assistance from the Guernsey Overseas Aid & Development Commission. The charity has also purchased 11 acres of land about 20 miles from Nairobi on which to grow food to supplement the diets of the children. Eventually, this will be able to meet more of the needs of the Academy in the event of another similar disaster.

The current pandemic has made things much worse. Recent research reported by National Geographic found that 90% of inhabitants living in Kibera now have no income at all. A strictly-enforced curfew and poor mobility mean that people have limited opportunity to seek food and any found disobeying the rules risk being beaten or even shot by the police.”

Peter Sarl noted that only last week Brian Otieno, a young Kiberan, commented. “If you are struggling to get enough food to stay alive, you don’t have much time to worry about this thing called Coronavirus. People have heard about it, but most of them can’t spare the time to fear it.”

Peter Sarl, added that, “School Farms Africa was recently able to help feed over 1,000 people connected with the school (children, siblings, parents and teachers) but only had resources to provide food for about 10 days. This incredible grant from the Commission will enable us to provide food for around 1,200 people for three months during which it is hoped the pandemic will ease and families will once again be able to provide for themselves even though in the better times they only earn about £1.60 a day on average. We wish we could help the entire community of up to 700,00 people but it has been a real blessing to be able to help just a small portion of Kibera to get through the pandemic.”

Deputy Emilie McSwiggan, President of the Overseas Aid & Development Commission said,“COVID-19 has had a devastating effect all around the World particularly on communities that are much less resilient than our own. The pandemic has only compounded the severe difficulties the people of the Kibera slum face every day.

"The United Nations recently reported that the Nairobi area has one of the highest virus attack rates in Kenya and is a COVID-19 hot spot. It also stated that food insecurity continues to impact affected communities with restrictions around the COVID-19 prevention making them even more vulnerable. The report added that there will be an estimated 3 to 3.5 million food insecure people in Kenya as the needs peak in June and July and approximately 1.7 million are projected to be affected in the urban slums, where the most significant shocks faced in terms of food security are increases in food prices and decreases in income or the loss of jobs.

"In early April the Commission agreed to provide support to the States of Guernsey own COVID-19 response. The Commission’s suspension of the Large Project and Small Project Grants programmes for 2021 allowed the Commission to return £1m of its 2020 budget to General Revenue. However, at that time, it confirmed that it would continue its normal approach to Emergency Relief Funding. I am therefore very pleased that we are able to help a local charity which has experience of working with a school in the extremely poor community of Kibera, which Guernsey has
supported before. This also renews the States’ commitment to providing aid and support for international development in the long term.”

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