To fight hunger, State can learn from private sector


Charity begins at home, so goes the adage. However, its use regarding famine, is suspect, but hardly misplaced. The central government seems out of its depth on the effective interventions it can make to sort out this sorry matter.

In absence of such State support, private individuals have coalesced around an initiative dubbed Skip Lunch, Fight Hunger, to raise cash and food for the starving masses of the North. The food appeal in Nairobi’s Eastleigh that hopes to raise Sh10 million, will go a long way in helping the hungry.

This media house ran an exposÈ that shocked the nation, with pictures of gaunt, sallow-faced and emaciated Kenyans who were unmistakably famished and malnourished. A torrent of food relief pledges inundated the airwaves, if only to temporarily assuage their pangs of hunger.

A similar appeal was made last year dubbed The Mercy Train. And the year before that. And the years before those, as drought became an annual fixture of northern Kenya. Last year, professionals from Ukambani asked fellow citizens to donate a tiny bit of their food and savings to feed Ukambani. And so the Mutui Museo (Good Neighbour) initiative worked like a charm and deaths were averted.

For years, Government development programmes have failed to be felt on the ground in northern and eastern Kenya. Residents there have to make do with the services of Oxfam, Kenya Red Cross Society, World Vision and remote church mission stations.

Now, learners are abandoning school to trek in search of food, water and pasture. Sadly, famine is a perennial problem, but is often forecasted in publicly available UNDP, church, Provincial Administration and Red Cross reports.

And Government’s failure to address this problem has left it squarely on the lap of well-wishers. This lapse is an indictment that behoves State mandarins to get off their high horses in Nairobi and forever banish the pictures of starving Kenyans in peacetime and in the 21st century.