In shocking, yet surprising figures released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and Food Agriculture Organization in 2018, it was established that around 17 million Kenyans routinely go to bed without food.
The figures show that at least 34 percent of the total Kenyan population is facing a food crisis.
Statistics have further revealed that about three million women of reproductive age in Kenya suffer from anemia, with significant health and development consequences for both women and their children.
A further 1.8 million Kenyan children were stunted in 2018 due to poor access to food.
According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), at least 23 counties are facing drought, since November, after short rains ended across the country.
The authority has issued a drought alert warning for seven counties, among them, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, and Kitui. These counties fall under the arid and semi-arid regions of the country and have been warned to expect a decline in food, water, and pasture in the coming weeks.
Turkana Hardest Hit by Food Crisis
According to statistics released by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), at least 800,000 Kenyans in Turkana county face starvation due to the poor performance of the 2018 short rains.
Turkana County is estimated to have at least 1.2 million people. This means that at least 67 percent of its total population is in dire need of food relief.
Currently, two people have already died of hunger in Turkana Central constituency, while many others risk the same fate.
According to residents, the drought has been caused by a lack of rain for the last 10 months. Further investigations have revealed that a locust infestation last year in areas irrigated using the rivers Turkwel and Kerio Valley, which provide most of the region’s food, led to poor yields.
Kenya Classified as A Food Deficit Country
A report, under the name, Global Hunger Index 2018, classified Kenya as a food deficit country in 2018 despite the government’s interventions to reduce hunger.
The report indicated that one in every three Kenyans suffers from chronic food insecurity and poor nutrition annually.
In addition, about 20 percent of the population does not attain the minimum dietary requirements to sustain a healthy and productive life.
Kenya was ranked among countries that scored poorly in reducing hunger among their populations.
Big Four Agenda: Food Security
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big 4 Agenda of making Kenya food sufficient remains afar to reach goal given the statistics above.
The agenda of food security aims to reduce the number of food insecure Kenyans by 50 percent and a 27 percent reduction in malnutrition among children under the age of five years.
Kenyans continue to suffer while others die due to the food insecurity in the country.
One is faced with the question of where is the government in all this? According to reports from Turkana county, only the County government of Turkana and the World Food Programme have responded to the crisis.
Deputy Governor of Turkana county, Peter Lotethiro, Woman Rep Joyce Emanikor, and Turkana Central MP John Lodepe have appealed to the national government and relief agencies to intervene urgently to save thousands of the region’s residents from starvation.
Ms. Emanikor has made an urgent appeal to the National Government’s Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) to release emergency funds urgently so that the affected people can be saved from starvation.