Kenyans donate by text to save drought victims

Added by on July 28, 2011

Kenya Red Cross distributes aid to victims of famine / Photo:

Kenyans came together as a nation to help drought victims by raising $200,000 in the first hours of a donate-by-mobile-phone campaign that began on Thursday.

Leading businesses launched the campaign, called “Kenyans for Kenyans”, in partnership with Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile phone operator, Kenya Commercial Bank, and Daily Nation, Kenya’s most influential newspaper.

Social media, including Facebook and Twitter were used to get Kenyans motivated and involved. Local celebrities also participated through Facebook to help raise a total of $5.4m to help Kenya’s 1.8m affected by the famine.

Kenyan’s took up the cause by donating $200,000 using their mobile phones during the campaign’s first 12 hours. Kenya has about 20m phone users who can donate using a system called M-pesa, a branchless banking system operated by Safaricom.

Kenyans were encouraged to give amounts as low as $0.10 in response to frustrations about the Kenyan government being seen as not finding a permanent solution for matter. The money the government set aside from the budget was not enough and Kenyans wanted other initiatives to be taken.

Funds raised by the campaign will be administered by the Kenya Red Cross Society to help people worst affected by the drought. The drought currently affects more than 10m people across Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.

Somalia is hardest hit; the UN formally declared a famine in two areas of Somalia that are experiencing 55% malnutrition rate. The UN declares a famine when malnutrition rates exceed 30%, to draw attention and aid to people in crisis.