Rapid developments have taken place within Kenya in the field of food security and drought management. Such developments highlight a spirit of collaboration and co-ordination amongst major stakeholders from all sectors. Efforts in information sharing, coordinated action planning and the desire to ensure effective use of resources are underpinned by a multi-agency approach in all areas.
Significant changes in the institutional and operational framework of food security structures within Kenya began early 1999. Such developments included a revised direction for the Kenya Food Security Meeting, the formation of Geographical Review Teams and the establishment of the Kenya Food Security Information Steering Group.
As the country moved into a period of drought stress and potential emergency, these developments were seen to have a positive impact. Equally important to the system was the establishment in June 1999 of the Inter Ministerial Committee on Drought and Food Security (IMCDFS).
The strengthening of the food security and drought management structure was instrumental in mounting a coordinated effort to assess drought stress conditions during the third quarter of 1999. A methodology for the same was developed and a comprehensive needs assessment report was compiled. Running alongside such developments was a period of research by the USAID/FEWS project on Food Aid Targeting.
The findings of this research in addition to the evolutionary process leading to greater collaboration and joint activity, signaled a need to strengthen and indeed redefine the role of the Food Security Information Steering Group. In essence this was in recognition of the central role the steering group was playing to members of the KSFM and the Inter Ministerial Committee on Drought and Food Security and in recognition of the need to coordinate response activities as we move into the ALARM phase of the drought cycle in many districts.
It was in recognition of the central role being played by the steering group beyond that of information generation and exchange, and need for coordinated response that the KFSISG changed its name to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (hereafter referred to as the KFSSG).
As part of the evolution processes taking place a Sub-Unit of the KFSSG was formed and charged with the responsibility of geographical food aid targeting decisions. The next step in the chain was a consultancy on the same and refinement of the system of food aid distribution and targeting. All of the changes took place in a participatory and collaborative manner which served to strengthen the effectiveness of the outputs.
This revised Terms of Reference for the KFSSG has been prepared to reflect institutional and operational changes that have taken place since January 1999, the identification of shortfalls and capacity within the current system, the importance of the work of the KFSSG to date and the time and resources required to realize the required developments and workload of the current system.
Membership of KFSSG
The following criteria are to be employed when (re)selecting agencies/departments to participate in the KFSSG. Such criteria are designed to ensure maximum efficiency, technical capacity and overall effectiveness of the body.
The organization/department shall:
1. Have demonstrated clear commitment to the collaborative multi-agency approach to food security and drought management.
2. Possess capabilities in the area of food security and drought management, be they technical, administrative, or policy related, in keeping with the TOR of the KFSSG.
The mix of bodies participating in the KFSSG has been drawn up with the view of maximizing the skill and knowledge base, the aim being to add value rather than duplicate existing capacity. It is envisaged that a Memorandum of Understanding will be drafted for all agencies to sign, committing them to the principles of the KFSSG and committing them to participate in the activities thereof, for a specified period.
Given the increased responsibility and workload of the KFSSG as detailed above and the fact that it is envisaged that the body will now be permanent, the following resource and administrative support measures are necessary.
A fully equipped and functional office within the Office of the President with two full time members of staff (1x Coordinator, 1x Technical Analyst), and a Secretary. An important feature of the Office will be that of an effective communication system.
It is envisaged that the personnel selected for the two posts shall meet with the approval of all KFSSG members. Detailed job descriptions are yet to be defined.