Much of East Africa, Kenya included, is now said to be experiencing the worst drought (and consequences of drought) since 1945.

The delayed rains

Initially, the problem was caused by the delay in the start of the ‘long rains’ – usually expected to begin in March. By the beginning of May, the situation was becoming critical. With no rainwater, entire crops were lost and harvests across Kenya failed. Livestock fared no better with no water to drink and no fresh grazing.

The unimpressive rains

When the rains finally did arrive, it was hoped that the situation would improve. Watching water fall from the sky certainly made many believe that the worst was over. But sadly, the ‘long’ rains were anything but long. There was still not enough water for crops to be revived and the food shortages were beginning to bite.

Food shortages and price hikes

Of course, it was never going to be long before the effects of crop failures were felt in the shops. Basic foodstuffs soared in price as demand easily outstripped supply. Some prices doubled, whilst other foods simply became very difficult to find.
You can click here to read a bit more about the beginnings of this impact in an urgent appeal that we sent to our supporters just a few weeks ago.

Of course, Chaffinch has remained committed to ensuring that all the children using the Future Stars centre can have enough to eat. This has obviously involved extra finance, but also a lot of hard work by the staff at the centre sourcing enough food to feed almost 100 children.

Ugali is off the menu

Today, there is no maize flour in Kibera. Not a single bag for sale anywhere. No maize flour = no ugali.
Whilst the government have begun importing maize flour (mainly from South America), and have removed the duty on these imports in an attempt to keep the prices down, demand still far exceeds supply. Of course, this means the prices remain more than 60% higher than normal. And there’s no buying it from a Kiberan wholesaler in the 20kg sacks that are the norm for Future Stars. This imported flour is available only in 2kg bags, in select supermarkets.
So, ugali is currently off the menu at Future Stars.

Ugali

Ugali is a staple carbohydrate in the children’s diet. It is a national dish eaten by everyone from the president to the unregistered child of Kibera. It provides plenty of energy as well as being dense and ‘stodgy’ enough to easily fill hungry stomachs.
The children of Future Stars (in common with many Kenyans) eat ugali almost every day, and sometimes more than once. It has always been a reliable, relatively cheap essential for the menu.

Ugali has only 2 ingredients: maize flour, and water.

Ugali

Ugali is a staple carbohydrate in the children’s diet. It is a national dish eaten by everyone from the president to the unregistered child of Kibera. It provides plenty of energy as well as being dense and ‘stodgy’ enough to easily fill hungry stomachs.
The children of Future Stars (in common with many Kenyans) eat ugali almost every day, and sometimes more than once. It has always been a reliable, relatively cheap essential for the menu.

Ugali has only 2 ingredients: maize flour, and water.

Ugali is off the menu

Today, there is no maize flour in Kibera. Not a single bag for sale anywhere. No maize flour = no ugali.
Whilst the government have begun importing maize flour (mainly from South America), and have removed the duty on these imports in an attempt to keep the prices down, demand still far exceeds supply. Of course, this means the prices remain more than 60% higher than normal. And there’s no buying it from a Kiberan wholesaler in the 20kg sacks that are the norm for Future Stars. This imported flour is available only in 2kg bags, in select supermarkets.
So, ugali is currently off the menu at Future Stars.

What will the children eat?

Without ugali, which has always been a major component of the children’s diet, we are left looking for alternative carbohydrates.
The first replacement is rice. Of course, the children were already eating plenty of rice and are not overly excited at the prospect of rice with every single meal!
The second option is chapati. Chapati have always been something of a ‘luxury’ item and tend not to be on the menu too often. Not only is chapati flour more expensive than alternatives, but a chapati requires several other ingredients and also a not insignificant amount of skill to produce. To feed the children chapati in place of ugali, more cooks are inevitably required.

What do we need?

What we really need is rain, and agricultural recovery and large-scale relief projects.
But what we need right now is:

  • Funds to purchase enough food that the children don’t go hungry. To pay the increased prices of standard foodstuffs, and to cover the expense of substituting rice and chapati for the missing ugali.
  • More hands to produce the meals. We really need to pay one or two extra people, in particular to produce enough chapati to feed almost 100 children
  • People who care. People who can show the children that, even though the situation is difficult, they haven’t been forgotten.

How can you help?

  • If you have some spare money this month, even if it doesn’t seem like enough to make a difference, we can assure you that it will. We are proud of our claim that 98p of every £1 donated is used directly in Kenya.* This is why a small donation can make a big difference when entrusted to Chaffinch.
  • Love, prayers, good wishes, and support. If you have a message you’d like to send to the children, and staff, at Future Stars, now is your opportunity. We hope to be able to send messages of love and reassurance from Chaffinch supporters. For the children, knowing that people are still thinking of them and that they haven’t been forgotten…that can sometimes do as much, or more, than a bowl of rice.

If you would like to send a message to Future Stars, just add it as a comment at the bottom of this page and we will ensure that it reaches the children.

——–x——–

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