Sunday, January 1, 2012

World Bank advises on drought in East Africa

Paul Redfern in the East African: Future droughts in Kenya can be mitigated by small steps including reducing maize prices and providing safety nets for the most vulnerable people, according to a new report from the World Bank.

With the current drought still affecting large swathes of the East African region two World Bank economists working in Kenya say broad policy changes are needed to reduce vulnerability to future drought as climate change continues to reduce rainfall in the region.

In a recent policy paper, Gabriel Demonbynes and Jane Kiringai, senior economists at the Bank’s Nairobi office, suggest four steps that can be taken to protect Kenya from future food shocks.

These include: directing more policies and services to people in arid and semi-arid lands, such as education and healthcare; reforming maize policies to reduce historically high prices; revising trade policies to ease the flow of grains to the market and strengthening social safety nets to people in need.

“The substantial drought this year was of concern to policymakers in Kenya and we have people in government expressing an interest in getting the World Bank’s view on what could be done to minimise the impact of future drought,” Demonbynes said. “Our intent here is not to tell the government what to do, but to stimulate a discussion.”

The report “The Drought and Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Impacts and Proposed Policy Responses for Kenya” said the drought affected more than 3.7 million people in Kenya this year. “Distortions in Kenya’s agriculture and trade policies compounded the impact of the food crisis,” the authors say....

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