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Shot in arm for farmers as World Bank gives nod to Sh25b loan to fight drought

The funds will be disbursed to selected smallholder farming and pastoral communities in the event of an “eligible crisis or emergency.” PHOTO: COURTESY

The World Bank Group’s International Development Association has approved a Sh25 billion loan to aid farmers in Arid and Semi-arid Lands to combat perennial drought.

The funds will be disbursed to selected smallholder farming and pastoral communities in the event of an “eligible crisis or emergency.”

Dubbed the Climate Smart Agriculture Project, the project is aimed at increasing agricultural productivity and building resilience to climate change risks among farmers in Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASALs).

“The objective of the Climate Smart Agriculture Project is to increase agricultural productivity and build resilience to climate change risks in the targeted smallholder farming and pastoral communities in Kenya and in the event of an eligible crisis or emergency, to provide immediate and effective response,” said the World Bank in a statement.

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The country has a grace period of six years before it begins repayment of the 38-year loan. It is expected that although the project will not do much to mitigate the debilitating effects of drought that resulted from failed rains in the October/November period, it will go a long way in demonstrating the Government’s commitment to finding a lasting solution to the perennial problem.

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About 23 ASAL counties have been hard-hit by the ongoing drought. President Uhuru Kenyatta recently declared the drought a national emergency. The World Bank said the performance of Kenya’s agriculture has been “highly volatile”, experiencing a negative growth in the nine years between 1980 and 2012.

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“At any given time, at least 10 million Kenyans are estimated to suffer from food insecurity and poor nutrition; the number in need of food aid almost doubles following natural disasters such as drought. Children in rural areas and from poorer households are more likely to be malnourished,” said the World Bank in its report on the project.

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“Other commodities, including tea, coffee, livestock, sugar, and oil seeds, experienced sluggish growth despite their potential. Increased volatility in agricultural growth rates has had debilitating impacts on rural household incomes and employment, urban and rural food security, poverty reduction, and the country’s overall economic growth.”

Besides upscaling climate-smart agricultural practices, the project will also finance interventions that will result in increased productivity, enhanced resilience (adaptation), and reduced green house gas emissions per unit of output (as co-benefits).

 

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