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Gado Drought & Famine in Kenya

Pre-budget analysis from a Right to Food perspective

A radical new approach to food security is needed in Kenya if the country is to end systemic hunger and meet the demands of providing adequate and nutritious food to all Kenyans. This is one of the main findings of a report commissioned by the Route to Food Initiative on a 2017/18 and 2018/19 budget analysis of sectors that impact food security. The report is available here:

Kenya National Budget Analysis – Food and Nutrition Security 2017/18 and 2018/19

With a ballooning population and rising poverty levels, the ‘feed-the-market’ agricultural policies that see the country prioritising industrial agriculture and cash crops for exports, should be reversed and replaced with ‘feed-thyself-first’ policies which encourage subsistence farming that is supported by government incentives and interventions. Such interventions include extension services which can help develop and improve the productive capacity of small-scale farmers.

“The current feed-the-market policies do not effectively respond to the problem of chronic food and nutrition insecurity for 25% of the population. Instead of sustainable development, the only thing that is sustained is the number of people that depend on philanthropy. The Right to Food is not the right to be fed, it is the right to feed oneself in dignity.” Ms. Layla Liebetrau, the Initiative’s Project Lead said.

“As such, lip service and business as usual in food security are no longer an option if we want to remove Kenya from the world hunger map. Small-scale farmers must get stronger incentives and institutional support to re-orient and reward them for supplying food for themselves and then to the domestic market. Similarly, we must also adopt a strategy to diversify our food supply,” she added during the launch of a report, recently released by the Initiative analysing Kenya’s national budget for 2017/2018 and the Budget Policy Statement (BPS) for 2018.

The report advocates for the ‘feed-thyself-first’ policies to be backed by heavy investments in sectors that are relevant to food and nutrition security including agriculture, health and environment.

Currently, the report notes, the budgetary allocation to agriculture over the last few years has been reducing and is now at approximately 3% of the total revenues – amounts which cannot move Kenya towards greater food security or towards improving compliance with, and greater fulfilment of the Constitutional Right to Food.

“There seems to be a de-facto policy of spending less on Food and Nutrition Security (FNS). According to the BPS 2018, allocations to FNS largely under the Agriculture Ministry, have been reduced drastically by KSh 11 billion in total compared to the previous year,” Alexander Owino, a financial sector specialist and author of the report said.

“At KSh 47 billion, spending on Food and Nutrition Security is below 3% of the National Budget. While FNS Allocations are basically small change, the recurrent allocations of KSh 14.2 billion are less than half the recurrent allocations to healthcare. The country thus spends twice the money for “treatment”, or less than half to food and nutrition as a basic foundation of good health,” Mr Owino explained.

The report notes that Kenya can draw lessons from emerging countries such as Brazil whose ‘Zero Hunger’ Program that uniquely combined social policies with economic assistance saw the South American nation reduce undernourishment by more than 80% and around 20 million people lifted out of poverty in a 10-year period.

But even with such advice, the report is quick to point out that Kenya’s food and nutritional insecurity does not emanate from a lack of policy and legislation but rather a lack of political will or capacity to implement the policies it has developed and agreed on.

“There is ample evidence that Kenya has an impressive to excessive array of policy documents, strategic plans and vision statements in respect of agriculture, food and nutritional security,” the report said of the dozen policy documents and legislative frameworks that are yet to be fully implemented.

Press release issued by the Route to Food Initiative 
Image: Drought Famine & National Disaster ©Gado

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