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Gates Foundation grant helps families in northeastern Kenya

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a $2.5 million grant to enable Mercy Corps to provide immediate relief for the drought-affected communities of northeastern Kenya, bolster long-term economic recovery, and help communities become more resilient to drought in the future.

The foundation’s grant expands Mercy Corps’ already significant aid efforts in more than thirty villages in Wajir Country. The agency currently is working in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia – including the capital city of Mogadishu – to help 900,000 people get immediate access to food, water and income, and become more resilient to drought in the long term.

Mercy Corps"We’re thankful for this support to continue our work responding to the region’s worst drought in 60 years,"  said Neal Keny-Guyer, Mercy Corps’ CEO. "While public attention focuses on needs in Somalia and huge displacement camps like Dadaab, families in Kenya’s northeastern villages are quietly struggling for survival. Some of these families haven’t seen rainfall in three years. The grant will help them get emergency relief, and start on the long road to full recovery."

Mercy Corps’ 26-month program will start with emergency interventions for an estimated 18,300 people in Kenya’s Wajir County, on the border with Somalia. The agency will distribute vouchers, enabling families to buy food for themselves and their animals. This will boost local markets – where food is available – and provide critical nourishment. In addition, Mercy Corps will incentivize livestock buyers to purchase sick or undernourished animals from herders at fair prices. This will allow pastoral families to reduce their immediate costs and recover some of their losses.

Another program expected to have a long-term impact on the region include the "animals-for-work" program that provides families with vouchers to purchase livestock in return for time spent improving water infrastructure – from deepening wells to removing animal carcasses from communal water points. Various other animal health and rangeland management strategies will help herder families thrive in the future.

Image courtesy of Mercy Corps, a charitable partner of The Hunger Site and

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