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We are either too rich or poor to sleep


With the runaway cost of living, many households across the country are struggling to put food on the table. Yet, an even more widespread, albeit silent, consequence is that a lot more of us can barely sleep well at night, anymore.

Save for the minority who either enjoy state security or can afford to retain bodyguards and other forms of personal security, Kenya is pretty unsafe now. It is also likely to get even worse in the foreseeable future, given the grim economic projections experts are churning out.

The media is peppered with a spike in incidents of crime that has had everyone worried about their safety and security. Those in the know have linked this to desperate breadwinners with no option of earning a living resorting to crime to keep their dependants fed and their other needs taken care of.

This is troubling, if the grace period that the powers-that-be have asked for to address the situation and bring down the cost of living is anything to go by. Imagine the state of insecurity after his period when the cost of food commodities finally comes down, if at all.

This means that lack of sleep is set to be a reality for the majority of us for the foreseeable future. Even for those who are lucky enough to be able to afford a regular decent meal, there is likely going to be no peace of mind. How can anyone snore away, yet activities of the desperately hungry will not let them catch a wink?

Clearly, widespread lack of sleep is the silent catastrophe that has struck many parts of the country. Many are being kept awake, either figuring out where the next meal will come from or worrying about the worsening insecurity. Even more households are now worried about holding onto the earthly belongings they have acquired over time, are spending their nights half asleep. With insufficient restful sleep, our ability to effectively build the nation is greatly impaired, which is not good for the economy.

It is not just in cities, the usual bastions of crime, unfortunately. The villages are not any safer, as marauding gangs have struck, mercilessly raining terror and keeping everyone awake and on the edge. Since they cannot afford to invest in beefing up security, this task falls on them as well – hence the sleeplessness.

Just serves to demonstrate how fast tightening economic times have changed things! A few decades ago, in the village, no one worried much about their cows and goats, harvests from the farm and other possessions. In many homesteads, an enclosure in the middle of the compound sufficed for keeping in the animals overnight with wild animals being the bigger worry. Over time, pens have had to be built or space created in the houses because it is no longer safe to leave the animals outside.

Humans are now feared, a lot more than the beasts of the wild. Lately, the animals are no longer safe even behind bolted doors with the heightening insecurity. The break-ins are more frequent now and a lot more brazen. Besides, the thieves are not as selective with what they can get away with – even sooty pots and leftovers from dinner are fair game. This has greatly lowered the threshold for who can be stolen from.

It just serves to show how desperate the situation is. It is more than an economic crisis and a full-blown economic crisis.

Of course, this is unlikely to be news to our all-knowing government machinery who must already have picked it up by now. Ideally, addressing it should be a priority before the situation gets out of hand.

Taking a long-term view, from the production side is all great, but there also needs to be interventions. A worrying, sleep-deprived populace is not good for the economy. Something needs to be done, urgently.



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