Kenyans donate $200,000 by text for drought victims

Kenyans chat on mobile phones in Nairobi (archive shot) About half of Kenya's population has a mobile phone

Kenyans have donated nearly $200,000 (£122,000) via mobile phone banking for aid to victims of the worst drought in the region in 60 years.

The BBC's Noel Mwakugu in the capital, Nairobi, says the money has been raised in the first 12 hours of an appeal launched by leading businesses.

Many people have accused the Kenyan government of handling the food crisis badly, he says.

But the government insists it is doing its best to help drought victims.

The appeal - involving mobile phone company Safaricom, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper and Kenya Commercial Bank - is intended to raise $5.4m.

The companies have urged the public to do a text transfer of at least 10 US cents into a special bank account.

"No amount is too small to give," Safaricom head Bob Collymore said.

Kenya has about 20 million mobile-phone users - about half the population.

Pastoralists threatened

The money will be administered by the Kenya Red Cross Society to help people worst affected by the drought, our reporter says.

More than four million Kenyans - many of them pastoralists in the north - are threatened by starvation.

On Wednesday, Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the government had spent $110m on food and other aid to curb hunger.

But many Kenyans are angry with the government, believing it has been slow in rallying aid, our reporter says.

Mr Odinga said the government had also given pastoralists livestock feed to prevent more of their animals from dying.

The drought is affecting more than 10 million in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.

Somalia is hardest hit, with the UN declaring a famine in its Lower Shabelle and Bakool regions.

Map of food shortages

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