The Hunger Menace In East Africa; Case Study Of Kenya

By Juma / Published June 30, 2022 | 8:48 am




KEY POINTS

Most Kenyans are affected by different levels and forms of food and nutrition insecurity as the government seemingly struggles to fulfill the Human Right to Food as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 – Article 43 1(c).




Food and nutrition insecurity continues to be one of Kenya’s biggest problems since independence. While technological advancements, enhancement of infrastructure and education, and other factors have changed over the last 58 years of independent Kenya, food insecurity has remained a perennial problem.

Most Kenyans are affected by different levels and forms of food and nutrition insecurity as the government seemingly struggles to fulfill the Human Right to Food as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 – Article 43 1(c).

Over the past years, the country’s food and nutrition security challenges have continued to rise and become even more complicated owing to population increase, global food market forces, climate change, and emerging production issues such as pests and diseases.

Related Content: Over 13 Million People Across The Horn Of Africa Face Severe Hunger, WFP

Even the section of the population that appears food secure is not guaranteed nutritious, diverse, and safe food. Key food safety issues in Kenya include misuse of chemical pesticides in agricultural production and contamination during transportation of food items at markets.

Today, more than 14.5 million Kenyans suffer from chronic food insecurity. This means that they lack guaranteed access to food and are occasionally unable to meet their minimum dietary needs. Families headed by women are more likely to be food insecure than those headed by men.

At the same time, more than 4.1 million Kenyans are constantly exposed to severe food insecurity and the risk of starvation aggravated by natural disasters, such as drought while 9 out of every 10 Kenyans are worried about the safety of the food, they eat every day.

What is more, more than 25 percent of children under five years, or 2 million children are undernourished. Child undernutrition occurs when children do not consume enough calories, protein, or micronutrients to maintain good health. Mainly assessed through three measures: stunting (extremely low height for age), underweight (extremely low weight for age), and wasting (extremely low weight for height).

Experts say that Kenya loses an average of KES 373.9 billion (6.9 percent) of its GDP every year due to the indirect and long-term impact of child undernutrition, mainly due to reduced productivity (352.1 billion). The health sector accounts for losses of up to 18.6 billion shillings, and the education sector for losses up to 3.2 billion shillings.

There are almost 23 counties facing acute food shortages in Kenya. This is almost half of the country. The counties are: Turkana, Baringo, Isiolo, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Wajir, Kilifi, Lamu, Nyeri West Pokot, Laikipia, Garissa, Makueni, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Embu, Kajiado, Narok, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Kitui, and Kwale.

Related Content: Counties Facing Hunger In Kenya And How To Help

As Kenya continues to bleed under the fangs of hunger, there are common misconceptions that have been in existence since time immemorial to the extent that people and stakeholders have come to believe that it is true. Some of the most common misconceptions include:

  • That there are parts of the country that are food secure/food baskets. Food insecurity is mainly felt at the individual and the household level. Therefore, assumptions that there are food secure areas based on overall production in the different regions can be misleading.
  • That Kenyan farmers need cheap fertilizer to lower food prices. While fertilizer may appear to be an important input in most cereal foods, it is not a necessity. Alternate methods to soil fertility management exist and offer more benefits to farm health and the nutritional value of agricultural products than chemical fertilizers. Farmers should be encouraged to explore other options to reduce exposure to ever-changing global market scenarios regarding imported farm inputs.
  • That Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are the solution to our food security problem. GMOs are not going to solve the food security problem in Kenya. GMO seeds are expensive and not economically viable without subsidies. There are also a lot of safety and environmental sustainability issues associated with the use of GMO seeds. Kenya is better off without GMOs.
  • That food security is not a problem of increasing the supply of food. It is a problem of demand and affordability. It does not matter if there is food available to buy or not if that food is too expensive.
  • That the notion of ‘adequate’ is entirely inadequate. Food security is understood in terms of staple food crops, for example, maize. The focus should be on proper nutrition and the right to choose widely from dairy. meat, fruits, and vegetables as well as staples.

Related Content: Advancing Food Security in Africa Through Agricultural Innovations

It is because of this that the efforts being channeled into the agricultural practice, not only in Kenya but across Africa by the Alliance of Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is a welcome move that needs to be supported and embraced.

AGRA, alongside various stakeholders in the agricultural sector, has rubbed minds together to find ways to bring lasting solutions to food insecurity in Africa. Since its inception in 2006, AGRA’s investments across the continent have been directed at increasing food and nutrition security and incomes for smallholder farming households. Since 2017, for instance, the organization has directly reached 10.1 million farmers, serving them with an integrated suite of services to improve how they farm.

The intervention focused on bettering farmers’ livelihoods, addressing food insecurity, and achieving greater resilience to shocks and adversity. Impressively, over 60 percent of the farmers reached by AGRA have adopted new farming practices. For instance, many of these farmers have transitioned to making more efficient use of their seeds.

For instance, before AGRA intervention, no farmers in Kiambu, Kenya, used the recommended row and hole spacing or the correct number of seeds per hole. This usually led to significant waste. However, after being trained by AGRA, all farmers shifted to best practices, and these changes reflect more capable farmers applying best practice techniques.

Kenya and the rest of Africa can be food-sufficient and beat hunger. Africa’s food problem will not be won through food donations but through healthy partnerships with experts from organizations such as AGRA.

Related Content: Food Insecurity: AGRA’s Progress in Enhancing Smallholder Farming as a Solution




About Juma

Juma is an enthusiastic journalist who believes that journalism has power to change the world either negatively or positively depending on how one uses it.(020) 528 0222 or Email: info@sokodirectory.com

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