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Act quickly to save four million starving Kenyans

Health & Science
 In 2021, about 2.8 million Kenyans needed food aid. [iStockphoto]

The food situation across the country is worsening by the day.

According to a report by the Red Cross, four million Kenyans in 23 counties are threatened by hunger. Of the 47 counties, 13 are most affected.

The report indicates that about 800,000 children below the age of five years are suffering from malnutrition, which results in stunted growth and the children being underweight. Counties most affected by malnutrition are Turkana and Marsabit.

Erratic rainfall patterns have negatively impacted farming and by extension, our food security. In 2021, there were about 2.8 million Kenyans who needed food aid, but because of persistent drought, this number has increased to four million this year, and could rise if the October rains fail, or are insufficient.

To save farmers in drought-stricken areas the agony of watching their animals die from lack of water and pasture, the Kenya Meat Commission has offered to buy 26,000 animals, slaughter and distribute the meat to needy families within four weeks. If followed through, this is welcome because, while saving farmers from huge losses, it also provides meat to needy families.

Yet in as much as it is welcome, it is not enough. There is more the government can do in the short-term to help its people.

To begin with, it is possible for it to give food aid and also provide water at specific water points. Unfortunately, lack of political goodwill seems to stand in the way of such noble initiatives.

Political campaigns are taking centre-stage to the detriment of the welfare of citizens who, ironically, are expected to be up, hale and hearty, to cast their votes on August 9, 2022.

Long-term measures like digging water pans and setting up irrigation schemes will go a long way in boosting our food production and with it, food security.

Turkana sits atop the largest underground water reservoirs, and there is need to find out how this can be exploited to make the county agriculturally productive and rich, in addition to its oil deposits.

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