By Bernard Wainaina
The idea to start this movement is inspired by regular famines witnessed in Kenya and most of othe African Countries.
Together,we must look for ways to ensure that our citizens will not die of hunger through advocacy,lobbying and direct interventist actions that guarantee food on the table for all Africans with a pilot project starting in Kenya on JANUARY,2015.
We will be looking for donors to our programmes and volunteers from both Agriculture/Agribusiness sectors as well as legal aid on pro bono basis for advocacy.
University students within East African region undertaking agriculture degree courses and law are especially invited to join our movement on volunteer basis.
Kenya,like many other African Countries, is not prepared for another spike in global and regional food prices.
In 2008, Kenya suffered from the combination of post-election violence, rising prices for food and fuel internationally, and poor harvests nationally.
This sent food inflation as high as 27 per cent that year, hampering the ability of Kenyans across the country to afford a nutritious diet.
This, and a subsequent spike in 2011, sparked protests both large and small, the most visible and memorable being the Unga revolution.
Having researched the policy responses to the price spikes of 2008 and 2011, we have concluded that Kenya’s current food and agricultural policies will not effectively mitigate the impact of the inevitable reoccurrence of global food price spikes.
The measures that the government took then (such as the short-lived provision of subsidised unga(Maize Flour) to designated depots in low-income areas of Nairobi) were driven by momentary political anxiety and the rivalry that defined the Grand Coalition government, rather than commitment to institute a sustained response to hunger that can effectively mitigate the differential impact of food price shocks on millions of people on low incomes.
Kenya’s drought response and famine relief programmes have all but eliminated hunger-related deaths over the last two decades.
While this is laudable it leaves unaddressed the problem of chronic hunger or persistent undernourishment caused by high food prices.
Since the price rises of 2008, Kenyans eat
less, and eat cheaper but less nutritious foods.
This is one of the reasons that Kenya remains the African country with the fourth-highest rate of undernourishment: not starving, but suffering from an inadequate intake of nutrients,which can be deeply harmful for long-term cognitive development of children.
FREEDOM FROM HUNGER
The 2010 Constitution guarantees to every Kenyan the right “to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality” (Article 43 (1)(c).
There is as yet no system of institutionalised accountability that protects this right for citizens.
The system we have in place at the moment can only guarantee us the right not to die from hunger.
Some efforts have been made to create social safety net programmes.
The examples include cash transfer programmes for the elderly, orphaned and vulnerable children, those living with
HIV/Aids, and through a Hunger Safety Nets Programme.
These have limited coverage, and heavy donor dependence raises questions on their sustainability.
The expansion of social safety net programmes should not be our main preoccupation though.
The fundamental obstacle to securing affordable food is two- fold.
First, skewed policies such as maize marketing
interventions and production subsidies that benefit only the producers of surplus: 50 per cent of Kenya’s maize production comes from only two per cent of farmers; and 70 per cent of Kenya’s small-scale maize farmers are net buyers, meaning that they end up buying more than they sell, so the producer prices offered as an incentive by the National Cereals and Produce Board are ultimately of no benefit to
The second factor is government failure to hold to account its own officials as well as millers and grain traders engaging in corrupt and predatory practices that drive food prices up.
A system of accountability for hunger that delivers on the constitutional right to food is unlikely to be secured without a national Right-to-Food Movement® that cuts across urban and
rural parts of the country in a sustained effort to eradicate predatory and corrupt practices in food markets and food aid.
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®