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Kenya misses out on IMF food relief billions 

Kenya misses out on IMF food relief billions to help vulnerable countries cope with food shortages and rising costs.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) determined this week that Kenya will not be eligible for emergency loans to help vulnerable nations deal with food shortages and increased expenses brought on by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

According to the IMF, the new Food Shock Window will be accessible through its current Rapid Credit Facility and Rapid Financing Instrument programs for a full calendar year.

It will be for countries with “urgent balance of payment needs” and that “are suffering from acute food insecurity, a sharp food imports shock, or from a cereals export shock.”

The IMF’s announcement did not mention any specific countries that would be eligible for the low-condition emergency loans under the new window.

However, according to a local publication, Kenya, which is battling high inflation pressures from a surge in food and consumer prices, is excluded from the facility, which will be a blow to the new government’s efforts to address food insecurity. 

In an interview on Thursday, an IMF representative stated that Kenya is one of the estimated more than 25 Sub-Saharan African countries that have been severely impacted by global food shocks and fulfill the requirements for the Global Food Shocks Window.

The spokeswoman did say that the effort is being developed to “address to important needs and to supplement the existing toolbox of the IMF.”

“As such, countries already engaged with the IMF through active borrowing programmes that are on track – like Kenya has, with its economic programme supported by the arrangements under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and Extended Credit Facility (ECF) – would not qualify to use the new facility,” the spokesperson said.

The IMF stated that Kenya will be able to request for more access to funding under its current loan programs.

Kenya has a 38-month loan arrangement with the IMF, which was worth $2.34 billion (Sh282.1 billion) when it was approved in April 2021.

“Financing needs for those countries should be addressed within the framework of their existing programmes, including through augmentation where relevant,” said the IMF spokesperson.

With the new emergency food shock financing, the IMF aims to try to ease war-induced shortages that are fast becoming the worst food security crisis since at least the 2007-2008 global financial meltdown, leaving the lives and livelihoods of 345 million people in immediate danger and a $9 billion (Sh108 billion) increase in import bills for the most exposed countries.

“For some time now, the combination of climate shocks, the pandemic, and regional conflicts has disrupted food production and distribution, driving up the cost of feeding people and families,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.

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