My last article was about spicy food, something i am really passionate about. Then came my post on Facebook, “Hunger is now a national disaster, all this time we’ve been telling hungry people to register as voters”. One of my friend wanted to know more about that, and since I could not have explained it in a few words, I decided to write this article.
Over 80 per cent of Kenya’s population of 40 million derives their livelihoods from agriculture and pastoralism. Four million small farm households produce three-quarters of the country’s food. Yet Kenya’s farmers face massive challenges. Their landholdings are small, productivity is low and most have little access to inputs, financial services and markets to sell any surplus produce. Poverty and hunger remain deep and persistent. Around 48 per cent of Kenyans, especially subsistence farmers and pastoralists, live in poverty and over 40 per cent – around 16 million people – lack sufficient food. This is graphical I know, but true.
By end of 2016, five coast counties were ravaged with drought and hunger. The situation threatened 1.3 million lives in Kenya, according to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA). Kilifi had been identified as having the severest vegetation deficit. Kinango in Kwale and Lamu West sub-counties are also in the severe vegetation deficit band. But thats where it all ended, today, this figures are a reality.
Today, more that 2 million Kenyans are facing hunger and starvation because of prolonged drought. People and animals’ lives are at risk because they have not had a chance to recover from drought in 2014 as rains were also poor in 2015 and 2016. The 2016 long rains were poor, leaving 1.3 million Kenyans in need of food aid, according to the government, which has started distributing maize, beans and rice to hungry people in the worst-affected northern and coastal regions.
Generally, responses to drought or crisis are too little and too late, it can take several months for emergency aid to reach people on the ground. Most of the worst hit area have poor road network, None if not little access to communication, and very limited representation. Kenya has declared the ongoing drought affecting many parts of the country a national disaster, calling for aid to counter the situation which is posing a major risk to people, livestock and wildlife.
The Kenya Red Cross estimated about 2.7 million people were in need of food aid after low rainfall in October and November, with the next rainy season not due before April. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called for “local and international partners to come in and support the government’s efforts to contain the situation”.
Out of Kenya’s 47 counties, 23 have been deemed to be facing disastrous drought. Early this month, residents in drought-struck northern Kenya said at least 11 people were killed and a tourist lodge torched due to conflicts when armed cattle herders flooded onto farms and wildlife reserves. Our nation has faced this situation before and efforts to create a permanent solutions have not yielded fruits.
With a score of 21.9 in Global Hunger Index, Kenya is ranked among the top 50 countries failing to provide their people with enough food. Kenya is ranked marginally ahead of conflict-prone Iraq which has a score of 22 and is outpaced by Egypt with a score of 13.7 which has in recent years been faced by conflict.
Ending global hunger is certainly possible, but it’s up to all of us that we set the priorities right to ensure that governments, the private sector and civil society devote the time and resources necessary to meet this important goal. I feel sad when I witness what is going on in our nation, my soul and prayers goes to those affected and in my little way, I contribute with kindness to the people affected.
We continue to hope, We continue to pray and we continue to fight.