Benetton acts on story of leather tanneries in Kenya

by Zeina Najjar
Friday, 30 June 2017 17:10 GMT

A Turkana tribesman walks in front of burned goats' carcasses in a village near Loiyangalani, Kenya, March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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Our story “Gucci purses and watermelons: dreaming of a better future for Kenya’s hungry north” by Katy Migiro about investing in leather tanneries in Kenya to use the hides of livestock impacted by drought prompted the Italian fashion company Benetton to contact the United Nations to get involved in such a project.

The United Nations country representative for Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee, emailed the Foundation saying:  “I have already received an enquiry from someone in Benetton about this tannery, thanks to your article.”

Chatterjee is now meeting in New York with officials from Benetton, the European Union and the UN to discuss his vision of making the Turkana tannery a world class facility and a supplier of quality leather to Gucci and others.

According to the article, "A record-breaking 26.5 million people are going hungry across the Horn of Africa due to poor rains and conflict, with many on the move in search of grazing, water and work.

The long-awaited spring rains were delayed and erratic, with parts of Kenya receiving less than 40 percent of normal rainfall, the country's meteorological department said.

Five major droughts have hit Kenya since 2006, said the Kenya Red Cross Society's (KRCS) operations manager James Mwangi, with 2 to 4 million people needing emergency aid each time.

"For me as a humanitarian worker, it becomes increasingly disturbing to go back to the same households to deliver food assistance or other forms of assistance every time," he said.

With droughts every two years, families do not have time to rebuild the assets, like livestock and savings, needed to see them through emergencies, he said.

KRCS has set up more than 20 resilience projects in the wake of a devastating 2011 drought, largely focused on using drip irrigation to grow grass for livestock and food for people in lands where rain failures regularly decimate nomads' herds."

For more under-reported news from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, visit www.news.trus.org.