Report reveals 1.5million Kenyans are facing hunger as locusts, Covid bites


Global Hunger Report says 23 per cent of the population in Kenya is under nourished?. [Courtesy]

Some 1.5 million Kenyans are facing an acute food shortage that has been exacerbated by Covid-19, climate change and locust invasion, a new report says.

The Global Hunger Report gives Kenya a score of 23.7, which lists it among 40 countries with a serious risk of hunger. The scores range between 0-100, with countries with lower figures having low levels of hunger.

By that score, Kenya, and much of the world is behind the aspiration to eradicate hunger by 2030, said Kelvin Shingles, the Country Director of Welthungerhilfe (WHH), the organisation that produces the annual reports

As per the 2020 Global Hunger Index, 2020, Kenya is ranked 84th out of 107, behind Algeria, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Gabon, Namibia, and Cameroon that have moderate levels of hunger while Eswatini, Mali, Malawi, Botswana, and Benin have a serious level of hunger but better scores than Kenya.

In Africa, only Algeria is listed as having a low level of hunger.

The organisation gives a score based on data on child mortality, child under nutrition, and inadequate food supply to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger.

The lesser the score, the lower the hunger levels are in the country. At 23.7, Kenya’s level of hunger score is above the global average of 18.2.

Child mortality looks at the percentage of children who die before the age of five, while under nutrition figures show the percentage of children under five who suffer from wasting or low weight for height and percentage of children under five who suffer from stunting or low height for age.

The hunger level in the country increased in 2020 from 23.2 in 2019, which the report attributes to conspiratorial factors of Covid-19 and locust invasion.

Access to inputs

In Kenya, the report states that 23 per cent of the population is under nourished. The figure has reduced from 3.4 in the past two decades.

According to the report launched in Nairobi yesterday, child mortality rate is decreasing and is now at 4.1 per cent.

Globally, almost half of the children who die before their fifth birthday are affected by malnutrition, Shingles said.

The report shows that Kitui and West Pokot counties have high pockets of children who are stunted.

Some 31.3 per cent of children under five years in Kenya are stunted, according to the Global Hunger Index.

Further, the report says chronic child under nutrition - which develops slowly over an extended period of time - is pronounced in Kenya.

More than 50 countries are facing severe hunger. Hunger is at alarming levels in 11 countries while 40 countries, Kenya included, have serious levels of hunger.

“The outlook was bad even before Covid-19 but now we have a triple threat in Kenya, including the locust outbreak, the increasing frequency of crisis due to climate change,” Shingles said.

WHH says increasing support for smallholder farmers to become more sustainable, improving access to agricultural inputs and extension services, strengthening local and regional markets will boost food security.

Agriculture and Food Crops Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga and representatives of food security lobby groups were at the launch of the report.