For Starving Children of Kenya, 42 Tons of Dog Food...

For Starving Children of Kenya, 42 Tons of Dog Food...

For Starving Children of Kenya, 42 Tons of Dog Food...

The Nation (Nairobi)
January 31, 2006
Posted to the web January 30, 2006

By Patrick Nzioka And Mike Mwaniki Nairobi

The founder of a New Zealand company wants to come to the aid of starving children in Kenya ... by sending them 42 tons of dog food.

The food, in a powder to be mixed with water, could feed 160 orphans for two months, says the founder of the dog food firm, Ms Christine Drummond.

The powdered meal was "a high powered food full of nutrients," and "it tastes yummy" Ms Drummond said.

In fact she likes it so much she even sprinkles some on her porridge every morning as a pick-me-up, she said.

Ms Drummond, the founder of a firm that makes Mighty Mix dog biscuits, wants to send the food to hungry children on Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria, which falls in Mbita constituency.

She says she heard the children were starving after the daughter of her friend, Mrs Lois McGirr of North Canterbury, New Zealand, returned from a recent visit to Kenya.

Ms McGirr said she was distributing the food through what she said was a Kenyan charity called Mercy Mission and was promoting the food as a "nutritional supplement" rather than dog food.

Originally Ms Drummond said she had planned to send Mighty Mix dog biscuits but when she realised there were so many hungry children she thought it better to send packets of the raw ingredients instead.

"The first plan was to send dog biscuits and change the vitamins then when I heard there were so many little children I could not send them a bicky," she explained.

The 42 consignment is in the form of 6,000 sacks containing a powder which when water is added creates a "sustainable meal".

The powder contains freeze-dried meat - beef, mutton, pork, chicken and deer - plus the sea food, green lip mussels.

Other ingredients include kelp, garlic, egg, whole grain cereals and cold pressed seed flour.

The first consignment of the powder - called NZ's Raw Dry Nourish - is expected to leave Lyttelton, a New Zealand port, in March this year.

However, it appears unlikely that the Government will allow the dog food to go to the children.

Commented Government spokesman Alfred Mutua Monday night: "Kenyan children are not in such shortage of food to result to eating dog food."

He added that while the Government would appreciate help to deal with famine, such assistance should conform to the Kenya Bureau of Standards and meet specific needs.

The Director of Medical Services, Dr James Nyikal, added: "There is no way that the ministry can allow dog food mixture to be brought in for human consumption."

And Mbita MP Otieno Kajwang' said his constituents would reject food initially meant for dogs.

He the told Nation by phone."Dogs in our area don't feed on powder; they eat fish."

Ms Drummond's offer of dog food for children was made during a television chat show in New Zealand. Media reports later quoted an agent for Mighty Mix dog food, Ms Gaynor Siviterw, who said it would be "marvellous" if the mixture helped the Kenyan children as it helped dogs.

"The dogs thrive on it. They have energy, put on weight. It's bizarre but if it's edible and it works for these people, then it's a brilliant idea. It beats eating rice," she said.

However, the New Zealand spokesman for the charity Oxfam, Mr Barry Coates, expressed doubts about the idea.

He told the country's media: " Kenyans are dignified and proud people and we are concerned at the message it sends, if they do find out that the children are being fed the same ingredients as dog food."

He added: "While it is a well-meaning impulse we are concerned they are sending the wrong message."

Mr Coates suggested that it would be much better to get food supplies from within Kenya rather than sending it around the world.

However, Ms Drummond appealed to the public not to react to the fact the powder is the same recipe as her dog food.

She said: "I believe that you can make a difference, and I have made a difference with the New Zealand dogs in the high country and nationwide, for their nutrition, since 1992 when I put a relief feed out for them, and I believe I can really make a difference in Kenya.

And she went on: "I sprinkle it on my porridge in the morning and also my lunch or tea and it just gives me that wee pickup"

Attempts to contact the charity Mercy Mission through a number on its website proved unsuccessful.

The New Zealand media stated that drought, crop failures and massive food shortages in parts of Kenya had left millions of people without access to adequate food.

Oxfam International estimated the number of people at risk at between 2.5 million and 3.5 million.

NZ woman to feed Kenyan orphans