Safaricom boss to head drought response committee

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa. 

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa. He will head a private sector-led National Steering Committee on drought Response set up by President William Ruto.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has established a private-sector led initiative to mobilise resources to help millions of famine-stricken Kenyans as a devastating drought ravages 20 counties across the country.

The 15-member National Steering Committee on Drought Response will be led by Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa and will serve for a year.

In an Executive Order No 2 of 2022 published November 21, Dr Ruto tasked the team to mobilise resources that would support the government's drought response efforts.

The committee is charged with establishing a National Drought Mitigation Appeal Fund and approving the opening and closing of bank accounts that would be jointly operated by representatives from the private sector, the government and the Kenya Red Cross.

The team comprising of corporate executives, and whose secretary is lawyer Murimi Murage from the Office of the Deputy President, will report to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Further, the taskforce will collaborate with the county governments and the National Drought Management Authority to cushion affected people by providing relief services and cash transfers.

In the new arrangement, the state aims to assist 20 counties in the Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) and 45 wards in nine non-ASAL counties that are extremely vulnerable due to food shortage.

The notice explains it was necessary for the state to provide a formal framework for the private sector and development partners to address worsening drought impacts with key interventions such as food, water, livestock and health.

This comes as appeals are sent out to help famine-stricken residents in 11 counties worst-hit by severe drought.

These are Turkana, Samburu, Tana River, Marsabit, Wajir, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Kitui, Kajiado and Laikipia.

Members of the team are chief executives Dr James Mwangi (Equity Bank),  Nasim Devji (Diamond Trust Bank), Shamaz Savani (African Banking Corporation), Paul Rushdie Russo (Kenya Commercial Bank),  Rebecca Mbithi, (Family Bank), Jane Karuku (East African Breweries Limited), Joshua Chepkwony (Jamii Telecommunication), Crispin Acholla (British American Tobacco) and Edwins Mukabanah (Kenya Bus Services Management).

Others are Dr Asha Mohammed, Secretary-General, The Kenya Red Cross, Patricia Mugambi Ndegwa (Impact Philanthropy Africa), Krishma Jitesh Chavda (ISHA Foundation), and Hared Hassan (National Drought Management Authority).

The team will also be required to appoint an independent auditor to prepare and certify the financial statements of the Fund.

The President noted for the last four years, Kenya, like all other countries in the Horn of Africa region, has experienced unexpected low rainfall, resulting in drought, poor harvests, and crop failure in some parts of the country. 

The situation, he added, has been exacerbated by other previous disasters, including the desert locust invasion in 2019, the effects of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, and the disruptions in the global supply chain of food and farm inputs following adverse developments on the international stage.


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