More than 5 million Kenyans facing starvation — report

By Lillian Kiarie

More than 1.3 million people in rural areas, and about four million in urban areas are experiencing food insecurity.  Two to four million Kenyans frequently require emergency food assistance.

The findings according to the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) have been caused by rapid population growth, urbanisation and  high global fuel prices together with inadequate food crop production and abrupt climate change.

These have fueled food insecurity in the country. Mitigating hunger requires investing  in storage, physical and virtual infrastructure to facilitate market integration and diversification in taste and preferences.

Speaking in Nairobi, Nancy Laibuni, policy analyst and head of the productive sector at KIPPRA said narrow consumption patterns, inflation, poverty and high postharvest losses were contributing to food insecurity.

“To reduce the effects of different shocks and hazards, households in Kenya often resort to measures like reducing the frequency and size of food intake, consuming less preferred food types, and reducing spending on essential non-food expenditures such as health and education,” she said.

 Laibuni added that pastoralists cope by moving livestock from one place to another so as to manage pasture and water resources. Agricultural analysts at the meeting called upon the Government to act on the policy agreements and development strategies that had already been set up.

This was during a  meeting to discuss ways of mitigating the alarming food insecurity situation in Kenya held yesterday in Nairobi by KIPPRA, the International Food Policy Research Institute and Madagascar’s Centre for Research and Analysis.

Van Rheenen, a senior coordinator at the International Food Policy Research Institute called for strong linkages between oil and food prices.

Rising oil prices make bio-fuels more profitable and agricultural production more expensive. This correlation between oil and food prices has increased over time ,” he said.