Mudavadi says climate change major hindrance to food security

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi has assured that Kenya will remain an active agent in addressing climate change.

Mudavadi regretted that climate change is a hindrance to attaining food security.

He said Kenya will push for climate finance for investment in climate-resilient food systems.

The Prime Cabinet Secretary noted that the spectre of climate change is universal, but its repercussions are severe in countries like Kenya which must be supported by compensation.

“Climate change is an overarching shadow against attaining food security. The worsening situation of climate change is exacerbating the vulnerabilities of our food systems like never before,” he said.

“Kenya has been a proactive agent of change, leading from the front in rallying the African voice. But we are not begging, our fate is tied for commitments that must be honoured. Our continent, rich in diversity and spirit, has long-held a shared perspective on the climate crisis," he added.

He made the remarks during the World Food Programme (WFP) meeting and launch of WFP finance strategy 2027 in Nairobi, Monday.

Mudavadi explained that the intricacies of global contests brought about by climate change and economic disruptions, should give organisations like WFP motivation and courage to lead from the front, not just as responders, but as drivers of the change the world needs.

He urged WFP to save countries from international bureaucratic lethargy that has increased market volatility.

“We all know that conflict, economic shocks, climate extremes and soaring fertilizer prices are combining to create a food crisis of unprecedented proportions. Stand tall and give the world some respite from unproductive contests, be they war or climate change truancy,” he said.

At the same time, the Prime Cabinet Secretary said that the recently concluded first Africa Climate Summit and the Nairobi Declaration is not just a symbol of collective resolve and vision for a sustainable future but also an affirmation that Africa deserve better for the pains in sheltering humanity.

He insisted that this declaration should be amplified for its echoes to resonate and influence the next course of universal action on climate change hence Kenya turning to its trusted partners, like the WFP.

“You have walked with us, understood the intricacies of our challenges, and have been integral to our journey. It is time to raise our voices together, to ensure that the Nairobi Declaration is not just heard, but acted upon," he said.

"Again, our collective future hinges on our ability to convert commitments into actions, and Kenya stands ready, with partners by our side, to lead this charge,” he added.

The Prime Cabinet Secretary said that Kenya and WFP have shared a productive partnership for over 40 years, having addressed challenges ranging from floods and droughts to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

Recently, Mudavadi said, WFP provided resources in support of 1.2 million Kenyans affected by the most severe drought in the past 40 years.

He noted that the cooperation has seen successful in various areas, including school meals programme until Kenya graduated out of it in 2018.

The Prime Cabinet Secretary said another significant initiative has been the Cash-Based Transfers program, which offers vulnerable households relief to cater to their specific food and nutritional needs.

He revealed that currently, the partnership is looking at increasing resilience against climate change, re-imagining school meals to climate-related strategies, and exploring innovative financing methods to access needed investments for Kenya.

“On behalf of the government, I express our gratitude for this consistent partnership with the WFP and assure the country office and the whole WFP of our full support,” he said.

Mudavadi stated that Kenya is grateful that it is now a member of the WFP Executive Board, which is not only a privilege, but a responsibility it takes seriously.

He said Kenya is uniquely positioned to amplify the collective voice of nations that benefit from the invaluable support of the WFP.

Mudavadi revealed that the country intends to leverage this role to support WFP's leadership in advocacy at global forums, ensuring that food security remains a top priority on the international agenda.

“Given our experience and understanding of the challenges many countries face, we will be active, and collaboratively and constructively contribute to international policy formulation and strategic direction that will lead to upholding and advance of WFP's mission and objectives,” he explained.

He noted that Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics show that about 29.6 per cent or 2.4 billion people from the estimated 8.1 billion world population, were moderately or severely food insecure in 2022.

FAO statistics showed that about 1 billion people live in extreme poverty of under US$1.25 a day.

Of the 2.4 billion, about 11.3 per cent or 900 million people in the world were severely food insecure.

Now, worldwide, food insecurity disproportionately affects women and people living in rural areas. Contrast these with hunger facts where 16.6 per cent of the world's population is undernourished.

Similarly, Mudavadi said statistics show hunger is the cause of 45 per cent of children deaths and more than 99 million children under age five are still undernourished and underweight.

He regretted that a majority of malnourished people are found in low - and middle-income countries - Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and South Asia in that order, have the highest prevalence of severe food insecurity.

WFP estimates that from 79 of the countries where it works, more than 345 million people have faced high levels of food insecurity this year, which is more than double the number in 2020.

This constitutes a rise of 200 million people compared to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels.