Get over the holiday mood, return to work and serve suffering Kenyans

Women thresh harvested rice in West Kano irrigation scheme in Kisumu county. Farmers in the scheme stare at losses after floods destroyed their mature rice farms. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]
Going by all indications, we have undoubtedly started off the New Year on the wrong foot. At this rate, there might be nothing new about this year, but the same old script of hunger and State lethargy.

In Western Kenya, farmers have reported that more than 1,034 acres of rice at West Kano Irrigation Scheme have been destroyed by flooding.

In the North Rift, heavy rains have destroyed hundreds of acres of maize that was awaiting harvesting. So far there has been no official response from the State officials.

In Northern Kenya, swarms of locusts have swept into a region that is just recovering from the impact of heavy flooding, destroying swathes of farms and pasture land.

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On pastures alone, the region depends on to feed their livestock, their lifeline, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that these destructive pests can destroy up to 1.8 million tonnes of vegetation per year. On the farms, the pests can destroy 170,000 tonnes of grain, enough to feed a million people.

It is important to point out that FAO’s warning was issued in mid-December last year. It baffles that Northern Kenya leaders are appealing to the president to direct the relevant ministries to take action. The leaders are simply saying this: Mr President, please tell your officers to do their job.

On closer inspection, the ministry involved was in the news regarding locust control when its officials attended the 63rd Desert Locust Control Organisation for Eastern Africa at Enashipai Hotel, Naivasha.

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Locusts do not invade high end hotels and boardrooms. As such, they cannot be remote-controlled from boardroom meetings and conferences from where highfalutin presentations and speeches are made.

One of the most ridiculous solutions offered to the Northern Kenya’s residents, who now face yet another spectre of hunger, is that they should learn to eat locusts. This is as ridiculous as advising a person with a headache to try standing on their head.

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That the government has not given any indication that it is addressing what is clearly an unfolding crisis is telling. In the past, we heard of denials and counter-denials, as well as finger pointing whenever reports of an imminent crisis emerged, until it was too late.

This shows that one of our major weaknesses as a nation has been a deep-rooted sense of lethargy among those entrusted with key responsibilities.

We, therefore, hold it our duty to remind government officers, especially those who should be addressing such crucial areas as food security, that the holiday is over, and that they need to shake themselves off the festive hangover and get back to work.

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New YearWest Kano Irrigation SchemeNorth Rift