American Vice President Joe Biden’s wife Dr Jill Biden is in Kenya. Mrs Biden is being led by high-level US Government delegation to access the impact of drought in the Horn of Africa.
Her tour was shrouded in secrecy. The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was not privy to her itinerary.
The US embassy said she is in the country to access “the impact of the regional drought and discuss solutions with Kenyan officials.”
She is accompanied by US Senator Bill First and Raj Shah, administrator of the US Agency for Internal Development, Assistant Secretary of State Erick Schwartz and Special Assistant to President Barack Obama, Gayle Smith.
The team has visited Dadaab refugee camp where ten thousands of hunger stricken Somali refugees have fled in recent weeks.
The US embassy was said Mrs Biden’s trip is meant to show US commitment to helping the Horn of Africa drought victims.
The White House said the visit was to extensively discuss the famine in the view of extending US aid to help the affected regions and people.
“Dr Biden’s trip will underscore the United States’ commitment to working with the governments and people of the region, and the international community, to assist the people of the Horn of Africa during this urgent time of need, and to investing in long-term solutions to hunger and food insecurity in the region.”
The United Nation has said more than 12 million people across the Horn of Africa are in urgent need of food aid. The people of Kenya in collaboration with the private sector and the government are mobilising funds in a campaign that has been dubbed “Kenya For Kenya” as an emergency measure to address the hunger. The Red Cross has said they are aiming to rise US $12 million in this drive.
Mrs Biden met with the President of Kenya Mr Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Mr Raila Odinga and discussed ways to respond to the crisis. She met with the Minister for agriculture Dr Sally Kosgey where they discused on long-term food security programmes.
Her visit is expected to “highlight the Obama-Biden Administration’s Feed the Future programme, which is investing in the country-led strategies designed to address the root causes of hunger and food insecurity around the world. Because emergency assistance alone cannot solve the underlying food insecurity in the region, institutions like Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and Feed the Future are also critical at this time.”
However, The Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet has said the ranging crisis would have been mitigated if the alarms that were raised were heeded by policy makers. Mr Gullet said while receiving donations that the current drought was predicted however necessary measures were not taken appropriately.
Thus, he said long term measures must be put in place to avoid future occurrences of food insecurity in the region. Irrigation has registered success in some parts of the Horn of Africa and was hailed as the way forward in collaboration with other strategic measures.