Analysis of Kenya’s budget (FY2018/19)
Kenya’s quest to become food secure will remain a mirage unless urgent, deliberate incentives and policy interventions that effectively respond to the impediments in the sectors impacting food and nutritional security are taken.
According to a report which comprehensively analyzed the 2018/2019 budget from a Right to Food perspective, allocations to the Food and Nutritional Security (FNS) was a paltry 3.54% of national government expenditures despite this sector being one of the pillars under the Government’s Big 4 priority development agenda.
In addition, the budget lacked explicit policies, programs and comprehensive fiscal incentives to address the constitutionally guaranteed Human Right to Food.
The report is available here: Kenya Budget Analysis – Food and Nutrition Security (FY2018/2019)
“Treasury in its 2018 Budget Statement omitted FNS from its assessment of key constraints to economic growth and development. Not only is this ironic as food security has been prioritized in the Big 4, but it also undermines the need for explicit policies and programs aimed at ending systemic hunger and laying the foundation for a meaningful and socially inclusive development path,” Alexander Owino, a financial sector specialist and author of the report commissioned by the Route to Food Initiative said.
Additionally, the report faults the Budget Statement for its various contradicting proposals which if implemented will disproportionately negatively affect small-scale farmers. Two such proposals include the removal of interest rate caps and classification of fuel and oil as VAT exempt, which will in turn raise financing costs for the sector despite Government’s pledge to make affordable credit available.
Given that agriculture is a devolved function, the report advocates for allocation of up to 50% of the KSh62.4 billion Conditional Cash Transfers to County Governments to be specifically spent on food and nutritional security programmes.
“This measure alone would increase spending on FNS by an estimated KSh30 billion across all levels of government and over the medium term begin to redress the current 3.54% allocation”, Mr Owino noted.
At the same time, the Route to Food Initiative called for adoption and dissemination of the Implementation Framework for the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy (2012) which was released this year by the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The Framework is the product of over 5 years of hard work and commitment on the part of the Food Security team at the Ministry and is an excellent knowledge resource on food and nutrition security as well as useful tool on how to take action and monitor improvements on food and nutrition at national and county levels,” Ms. Layla Liebetrau, the Initiative’s Project Lead said.
To ensure its success, Ms. Liebetrau called on the Government to empower county administrators to implement the Framework at the grass-root level which would be a step in the direction towards ensuring that all Kenyans are able to feed themselves in dignity.
Ms. Liebetrau noted that it was disconcerting that a National Government Ministry does not have resources to disseminate and capacity build county administrations on a document it has been developing for years. Instead, the roll-out and utility of the Implementation Framework will rely on funding from international development partners. “ It would be a shame for this document to lie idle and collect dust, whilst 25% of the population is chronically food insecure” she emphasised.
For progressive realization of improved food and nutritional security, the report continues to reinforce the adoption of policies that prioritize the production of food crops, encourage family farming using organic inputs and stronger incentives, institutional support and extension services to small-scale farmers as well as diversification of the country’s food supply.
This would be a shift from the current feed-the-market-first policies which promote large-scale commercial agriculture and which have failed to combat hunger in the country.
Press release issued by the Route to Food Initiative
Image: Kenya’s Budget Allocation to Food Security courtesy of Victor Ndula
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