The Alcatel-Lucent Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Alcatel-Lucent, donated 13,9-million Kenyan Shillings (KES), or $146 836.00, to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) to help combat the severe humanitarian crisis devastating East Africa brought on by the worst drought in some 60 years.
This donation is a result of a Global Matching Gift Programme launched by the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation for Alcatel-Lucent employees. The programme provided a way for employees to contribute to efforts to alleviate this crisis, and to enable them to make a difference to the lives of the children and their families impacted by this drought affecting the entire eastern Africa region.
Speaking while receiving the cheque, the Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General, Abbas Gullet, thanked Alcatel-Lucent employees worldwide for their generous donation, noting that the money will go a long way in providing food and medicines for thousands of Kenyans who are currently in dire need as a result of the drought.
“Kenya and indeed the Horn of Africa is facing the worst drought in over 60 years, which has caused a grave humanitarian crisis with  lactating and expectant mothers, school going children and the elderly being the most affected,” says Gullet.
More than 3-million people in Kenya are in need of food aid. The situation is likely to continue if the rains fail again in the next season. According to the United Nations, more than 12,4-million people, including 2-million children, are at risk of starvation in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.
The Kenya Red Cross Society has been leading the effort to alleviate the suffering of people across the country, with some 1,8-million most vulnerable people receiving direct aid.
The Kenyans for Kenya Initiative, an initiative of the private sector in partnership with Kenya Red Cross, has mobilised close to KES 700-million with a significant fraction coming from ordinary Kenyans sending monies through money transfer systems like MPESA a service run by Safaricom. Gullet says the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation donation was a big boost to the Kenyans for Kenya initiative.
Alcatel-Lucent’s donation will support Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) in its emergency interventions and activities designed to meet the immediate needs of the affected, including provision of relief food, clean water and urgent healthcare.
This complements one of the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation’s primary focus areas, which is to help disadvantaged children acquire life skills that will lead to a healthier and more prosperous life.
The funds donated are for both short term solutions – emergency food relief and water trucking and medium term solutions such as rehabilitating or sinking boreholes and setting up greenhouses to improve food security.
“We have been shocked and saddened by the crisis devastating the Horn of Africa. But we are heartened by the efforts of international humanitarian organisations such as the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and individuals, including our own employees, to help the people of this region. Alcatel-Lucent employees and the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation are taking steps to ease the East Africa crisis.
“We are committed to improve and transform these peoples’ lives, and we hope that individuals and organisations will continue donating to the relief efforts.  Donating funds is the most efficient way to show solidarity and make a difference in supporting the effort to lessen the suffering and enable access to water, food and basic sanitation,” says Tony Wood, country senior officer of Alcatel-Lucent in East Africa.
The Kenya Red Cross Society’s superior response capacity enables it to rapidly deploy aid to the affected areas.
The organisation is also implementing medium- to long-term interventions aimed at rebuilding the communities’ resilience to future disasters through early recovery initiatives like school feeding programmes, rehabilitation of water wells, setting up greenhouse farming operations and open the way to more agricultural innovation.
Alcatel-Lucent is committed to being an involved corporate citizen by serving and enhancing the communities where its employees and customers live and work. The matching gift programme launched by the foundation is one aspect of that.
As they have in providing donations to help people impacted by other disasters around the world, Alcatel-Lucent’s employees understand that the situation in East Africa demands an immediate response and emergency funds to stop hunger and malnutrition from accelerating and to support safety programmes.