Press Statement; Hunger crisis in Kenya
Position on ongoing hunger crisis in the country by the route to food alliance
The Route to Food Alliance, which is a movement of men and women championing for the realisation of the Right of Food as espoused in Article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya, is alarmed by recent press reports that have highlighted the plight of thousands of Kenyans at risk of starvation. President Uhuru Kenyatta on September,8, 2021, declared the drought ravaging parts of the country a national disaster.
The alliance members, welcome the emergency interventions announced by the government and urge the authorities to ramp up efforts to ensure that no other Kenyan dies of hunger.
As unfortunate as this situation is, however, we believe it is one that could have been averted and which should not be cyclical as it has been each year.
It is the constitutional obligation of the government to respect, protect and fulfil this basic human right which goes beyond the minimum core responsibility of emergency food aid. It requires progressive action to address the food and nutrition security needs of the country.
Over the last few years, we have regularly called for increased budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector. In our report on the Budget Policy Statement last year, we noted that “Out of the total expenditure by the national government, since FY2013/14 less than 4% of the total voted budget has been allocated to the Agriculture Rural and Urban Development (ARUD) sector. A similar pattern of low allocations to agriculture is observed in the county budgets. Out of the county budgets between the FY2013/14 and FY2018/19, less than 4% is allocated to food and nutrition security except for the FY2014/15.”
The trend of low and declining investments to the sector that literally feeds the nation and provides employment for over 40% of the population is unacceptable, and quite the opposite of the government’s obligation to the progressive realisation of each individual’s right to adequate food.
In addition, we have regularly called on the government to invest more in smallholder producers and local agroecological food systems, which would establish a food web in Kenya that supports the production of healthy food, protects the country’s agricultural biodiversity and enhances resilience to climate change.
Indeed, even in perfect weather conditions, when the headlines are not focused on acute hunger, one in four Kenyans is estimated to suffer from undernourishment – a situation that is unacceptable in the 21st century.
It behoves the national and county governments to stop paying lip service to food insecurity and implement projects that put more money in wananchi’s pockets. In addition, strategic infrastructure projects should be prioritised, particularly in ASAL counties, to support economic activities in those regions that raise household incomes as well as lower the cost of food currently raised by gross inefficiencies in the supply chains.
We call on Kenyan political leaders, both at national and county level, to commit to a pledge that no Kenyan shall die of hunger any longer. Indeed, they should commit that no Kenyan shall go to bed hungry anymore.
Finally, as elections approach, we plead with Kenyan voters to only reward candidates who demonstrate sensible and practical ideas that will uplift all citizens from the humiliation and death of chronic poverty and hunger.
For further interviews, comments contact
Emmanuel Atamba, Route to Food Alliance – firstname.lastname@example.org
Cartoon by GADO