Tag Archives: kenya food security

Kenya – 1.5 million people facing threat of starvation as rains fail

Capital FM/allAfrica

Photo: Capital FM

Drought and hunger in Kenya.

Nairobi — The government says 1.5 million people are facing starvation across the country specifically in arid and semi-arid areas due to low rainfall.

Cabinet Secretary for Devolution Anne Waiguru explained that the National Government will be responsible for food relief and distribution in a bid to mitigate starvation.

In a joint statement with Governors of affected areas on Tuesday after the annual drought assessment in counties, Waiguru said the County Governments will be responsible for water distribution, veterinary and human health.

The assessment was carried out between July 21 and August 1 to evaluate the impact of this year’s long rains on food security.

“Only a few places in the Coast and Ukambani received 90-150 percent of the normal though with uneven distribution,” Waiguru stated.

“The assessment has forecast impending food crises in certain places including central parts of Turkana, Western parts of Marsabit, and some parts of Samburu, Mandera, Wajir, West Pokot and Baringo.”

Some of the areas affected are Mandera, Garissa, Taita Taveta, Tana River, parts of Laikipia and Meru North.

The assessment found that in most, “arid and semi-arid lands counties, the amount of rain was 50-60 percent of the norm, meaning that most places did not receive the expected amounts both in space and in time.”

Mandera County Governor Ali Roba on his part said following the discussions, all the set interventions towards addressing the situation will be set in motion at all levels.

The National Treasury has since allocated Sh1 billion to support the programme.

On August 8, Deputy President William Ruto said the government would do all it can to ensure no Kenyan dies from hunger.

“Sh1 billion has been released to the responsible ministry to ensure food is made available to the affected people. In fact, we have food worth Sh10 million for Samburu County,” he said.

Ruto however asked the county governments in arid and semi-arid areas of the country to invest heavily in irrigation, pointing out that provision of relief was not a lasting solution to famine.

He urged the county governments to invest heavily in irrigation in bid to realizing food security in their respective counties.  allAfrica

Kenya – locust swarms strip vegetation and grazing in Turkana

Nation

Famine fears in Turkana as locusts sweep plants clean

A section of Turkana County. Swarms of locusts have invaded Turkana County, completely wiping out pasture. Photo/FILE

                            A section of Turkana County. Swarms of locusts have invaded Turkana County, completely wiping out pasture. Photo/FILE                             

In Summary

  • The invading insects, travelling en masse and leaving no green leaf untouched, have now sparked fears of a famine among residents.

Swarms of locusts have invaded Turkana County, completely wiping out pasture meant for their livestock.

The invading insects, travelling en masse and leaving no green leaf untouched, have now sparked fears of a famine among residents.

The most affected areas are Lokitang, Kataboy, Loarengak, Kachoda, Kaalreng, Meyan, and Kokuro. Sweeping from one area to the next with frightening speed, the locusts have fed on all kindsof vegetation, which is food for their animals.

Kibish district commissioner Erick Wanyonyi expressed concerns that the locusts may spread to the few irrigated farms in Kaikor and Kachota.

The administrator toured the area and said that reesidents could soon go hungry as they depended on irrigated farms for food.

Mr Martin Ekaal, who lives in Lokitang, called for quick intervention from the Ministry of Agriculture to prevent the spread as they were forced to travel longer distances for pasture.

The insects are spreading towards Kaikor and Kibish  on the border between Ethiopia and Kenya.

Locusts are voracious eaters and pose a great threat to livestock and food security as they feed on vegetation, leaving no green leaf wherever they land.  nation

Kenya’s flawed economic strategy fails to combat poverty and hunger

The Star

Alex Awiti

Kenya’s Economic Growth Path Flawed

According to the World Bank, Kenya’s economy will grow an estimated 5.7 percent in 2013 before accelerating to 6% in 2014. This is on the back of impressive, unprecedented growth over the past decade. Despite projections of considerable economic growth and increasing self-confidence as a major regional economic player, millions of lives are wrecked daily by poverty, malnutrition and by pitiable public investment in health and education services.

About 44% or 2 out of every 5 Kenyans live in conditions of extreme poverty, subsisting on less than Ksh.105 a day. These Kenyans spend 50-80% of their income on food and are sinking deeper into a poverty trap triggered by hunger. According to the World Health Organization, around 35% of children under five in Kenya are stunted through malnutrition, with food insecurity widespread in many rural parts of the country.

A food security, vulnerability and nutrition assessment conducted by the government of Kenya in 2010 revealed that more than 25% of urban children were stunted while 13% of urban households had unacceptably low levels of food consumption. In May 2012, the government distributed 4,800 bags of rice and soya and another 400 tins of cooking oil to poor households Nairobi, where it was estimated that 65% were food insecure.

Only 4% of Kenya’s 75% rural population has access to electricity. Wood, charcoal, dung and crop residue supply 76% of Kenya’s domestic energy needs. There is a strong correlation between exposure to biomass fuel and respiratory infections in children. A report published by the Ministry of Health in 2004 revealed that acute respiratory infections contribute to 70% of mortality in children less than 5 years of age.

A report by Uwezo, an education advocacy group, revealed that among standard 3 pupils only 28% from the poorest households had achieved expected numeracy and literacy, compared to 48% in the richest households among grade 3 pupils. 25% of the over 800,000 children who finished primary school in 2102 will not transition to high school. The path to gaining skills and competing in a knowledge economy does not exist for a majority of our children.

According to the 2009 census, only 2 million of 14.5 million Kenyans in employment have stable jobs, which pay a living wage. 12.5 million Kenyans are employed in sectors that are highly vulnerable and do not pay enough to lift our fellow citizens out of poverty. Inequality is staggering; the richest 10% of households spent on average 14.3 times more than the poorest 10% of households in 2011.

The impressive growth of the last decade has not trickled down. Kenya’s overriding preoccupation with economic growth makes no sense without recognizing that sustained gains in human welfare depend on how that wealth is created and distributed. Our economy, which is largely driven by services, has the least potential to generate a broad based shared GDP growth for a population dominated by unskilled school dropouts and struggling smallholder and pastoralists. In a sense, Kenya’s growth path is highly defective and exacerbates inequality.

This path of inequitable growth will have serious implications for political and socio-economic development, undermining the tenuous foundations of our young democracy. GDP growth without investment in human development is unsustainable and unethical. What is the purpose of a growth path that produces handful billionaires, luxury shopping malls and superhighways rather than access to water and sanitation, high quality education for our children, better nutrition and security for millions of Kenyans?

We must learn from China, where massive investment in expansion of education and healthcare in the 1970s is paying off and has proved critical to undergirding China’s sustained economic growth. Without comparable investments in laying such a foundation, Kenya’s economic growth will remain modest and vulnerable.

We must make public investments, which will give the vast majority of our fellow citizens a toehold on the first rung of the ladder out of poverty. These include support to smallholder farmers and pastoralists, affordable public transport such as bus rapid transit, affordable mixed–income housing in urban areas and vocational training and work readiness for recent graduates.

What holds Kenya back is not the quality of our air or soils or water but successive governments, which lack clear-headed, long-term policies and the political will to follow through. We must ask and demand more of our government and ourselves. Most of all, our collective conscience must be stirred because when our conscience quickens political action will follow.

Dr. Awiti is the director of the East African Institute and associate professor at Aga Khan University.

- See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-129167/kenyas-economic-growth-path-flawed#sthash.oij1c2ob.dpuf

Kenya farmers lack maize seeds and fertilizer endangering food security

IRIN

MT ELGON, 15 May 2012 (IRIN) – At least 1.3 million farmers in Kenya – more than double the figure for 2010 – do not have any maize seeds to plant this season, despite favourable weather conditions, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The “high number” of farmers without seeds is due to drought in the region and Kenya last year. “Many farmers either sold the seeds they had kept or used them as food,” Wilson Songa, secretary of agriculture at the ministry, told IRIN.

The problem has been getting worse over the past few years. “The country has witnessed an increasing number of farmers totally lacking seeds to plant over the past five years. Remember, the last time this country experienced a bumper harvest was in 2006,” Songa said.

Mary Chemutai, a widowed mother of six, is one such farmer. Her overgrown 0.4 hectare farm in the Mt Elgon region of western Kenya lies fallow, despite the good growing weather. “I didn’t have any food to feed my family because what I got last season ran out, and I couldn’t watch my children die of hunger. So we ate all the seeds I was supposed to plant this season. Now I have nothing to plant.”

She said she could set aside some of the 80 shillings ($US1) she earns daily as a farm labourer to buy seeds, but money was tight. “Some people think I don’t want to plant, but I can’t plant stones.”

Maize meal is a staple in Kenya, which produces 25,000 tons of maize seed annually against a demand of 35,000 tons. Almost 80 percent of Kenyan maize farmers plant with seed saved from the previous harvest or obtained from community seed banks, says the ministry.

“Over a million people not planting maize… means even many more people who rely on it for food will not get it… It is even worse because those farmers with seeds to plant do not have fertilizers, resulting in poor harvests,” Enoch Mwani, who teaches agriculture at the University of Nairobi, told IRIN.   Read more…

Kenya: growing your way out of food aid

Alertnet/allAfrica

Yatta — In the remote east Kenyan village of Makutano, Jane Mutinda Maingi is feeding maize to her Friesian dairy cow, bought just a week ago with proceeds from selling produce grown on her one-hectare plot.

Despite frequent droughts in the semi-arid Yatta region, the 60-year-old mother of six has healthy maize crops on her farm, as well as vegetables such as chilli peppers and cucumbers, some destined for the export market.

“Since my childhood, this area has never been known for agricultural production,” she says. “In fact, until two years ago, the government and other humanitarian organisations always had a default programme of bringing us food aid every year.”

Tired of this dependency, several households in Yatta came together in 2009 under a church-led initiative aimed at stamping out hunger and ending the need for food aid. They called their project “Operation Mwolyo Out” (OMO), “Mwolyo” meaning food aid in the local Kamba language.

They started to invest in ways of harvesting and conserving water, and to experiment with a mix of indigenous and innovative methods of dry-land farming. The approach quickly bore fruit.

The scheme now has a membership of 3,000 registered households, with 2,000 more hoping to take part.

“It is the first programme I have seen that has managed to end dependence on food aid,” says Lawrence Kiguro, associate director for livelihoods and resilience at international aid group World Vision Kenya, which helped the community-led scheme get off the ground.  Read more…