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Nairobi, 2 May 2012
Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs in Kenya: press conference speaking points
Kenya is a very important partner of the European Union. We value our cooperation with the country and the government.
This visit comes at a very important time for the Kenyans but also for the region of the Horn of Africa. I came here with 2 key issues in mind:
Kenyan troops participate in the peacekeeping AMISOM mission in Somalia and the European Commission is the main funding body of this mission. We need to use all the opportunities we have to contribute jointly to the peace and stability of the region.
You are all well aware of the food security problems. Only few months ago people were suffering from hunger in the east of the country, and neighbouring Somalia witnessed a terrible famine. 13 million people were at risk of hunger.
In 2011 the European Union reacted urgently. The EU together with member states provided around 730 million euro in humanitarian assistance. Last year, the European Commission alone spent 181 million euro on humanitarian assistance, and this year we have allocated 102 million euro for the most urgent needs in the Horn of Africa region.
During my first day, I visited EU funded development projects in the dry (arid) areas in the North-West of the country. These projects address one of the courses of this region – reoccurring drought.
I met with people living in that area and they have expressed their worries, but also thanked the EU for funding the only hospital in the region, for the support for local community and many other initiatives.
But the one common denominator that hampers development in this region is drought and food security. To address this issue, is to remove one of the most serious bottlenecks in this area.
We have already been doing a lot. We have a 66 million euro project aimed at improving food security by increasing crop productivity and drought resilience of local communities.
The EU also invested 18 million euro for Drought Management Initiative which has strengthened the capacity of the local governments of these dry lands to establish an early warning system and increase capacity to act quickly. This help to reduce the impact of drought.
But, we see the need of stepping up our actions to break this vicious cycle of recurring drought and hunger in the region. With this in mind, the EU launched a new initiative called SHARE – or "Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience". I am happy to announce today that up to 40 million euro from this initiative will be available for the Kenyans. These funds will be first of all used to help people to come back to their homes and normal lives; many had to migrate due to the food crisis. More so, this initiative will support nutrition, water, livestock insurance and drought resistant crops.
Hunger does not respect borders; therefore this initiative targets the whole region of the Horn of Africa. This is a two-step initiative: first, it will help the victims of the recent crisis to return to their homes and jobs, and it will help to improve public services, such as access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Then, it aims at strengthening the people and the economy so that they can better withstand future crises. For the moment, we have reserved 250 million euro for the entire region, but we hope that EU member states and other partners will join us.
This initiative is also unique because it addresses root causes of hunger which lie deep and are often complex. It also a perfect example of how we can successfully link humanitarian aid with long-term development.
Political situation in Kenya
Today, I met with President Mwai Kibaki, and Finance Minister Githae. I also met with representatives of civil society.
I congratulated to the government on the implementation of the reform process especially in the areas of public financial management and devolution. I also encouraged the government to continue these reforms, in the spirit of the national constitution; especially in the run up to the upcoming elections.
I still remember the violent images after the last elections. These events left a deep scar in Kenya’s society. Only peaceful, free and fair elections can guarantee further development of the country.
The EU is ready to support the electoral process. We are already providing 2/3 of support to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries committee and, if the Kenyans wish so, we are ready to send observers for the elections.
Agenda for Change
I also assured the Kenyan president that the EU will remain committed to fighting poverty in the country and I explained the main ideas behind my new policy proposals "an Agenda for Change".
The "Agenda" suggests to focus on two main pillars:
EU cannot do everything and be everywhere; impact of our aid has to be felt and visible for the poorest people and the results of aid have to be sustainable. Only with inclusive growth the societies can get out of poverty; with the growth that will benefit the whole society.
To support this vision, I suggested concentrating on fewer sectors, such as agriculture and food security, access to clean energy, and human development. SHARE initiative, which I mentioned before, is fully in line with this new approach.
Sustainable Energy for All
I want to give you one more example of what I mean in practice. Under the skilful leadership of UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, the EU recently fully committed itself to the goal of providing universal access to energy for all by 2030. This global Sustainable Energy for All initiative is a great opportunity to empower people and development.
Only few weeks ago, in Brussels we announced "energising development" initiative which aims at providing access to clean energy to 500 million poor people by 2030. We have set up technical facility, which will support those developing partners that "opt in" to the initiative by providing EU expertise in the field; thereby promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth.
The EU will reveal the next stage of this initiative during Rio+20 conference at the end of June.
I mention this here, as the Kenyan government express clear interest from the Kenyan side in participating in this initiative and is one of the first countries to do so.