Rising food prices ‘recipe for unrest’

Thursday, May 12th, 2022 07:57 | By
International Fund for Agricultural Development Associate Vice President Programme Management Department Donal Brown speaks to the press in Nairobi, yesterday. PHOTO/Alex Mburu

Kenya risks getting into social unrest and destabilised systems following spiralling food and energy prices, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has warned.

The Italy-based UN financial institution cautioned the weakening food supply systems coupled with increasing energy costs could push more people into more poverty.

“Spiralling food and energy prices could eventually lead to social unrest and destabilise countries, particularly fragile states. Long-term stability is at stake,” said IFAD Associate-Vice President, Programme Management Department Donal Brown.

Prolonged drought

He was speaking in Nairobi when IFAD launched a Crisis Response Initiative to ensure small-scale farmers in high-risk countries can produce food over the next few months to feed their families and communities while reducing the threat to future harvests.

Brown said that while Kenya is not on the list of 22 countries classified as in dire need of food assistance, it is still grappling with the effects of prolonged drought, Covid-19 and climate change.

The Kenya government says 3.1 million people are in dire need of food.

IFAD, however, said Kenya, compared to other horn of Africa countries, can endure the effects of the increasing food prices as a substantial number of people in the rural areas are farming.

Many countries are vulnerable to price shocks due to their high reliance on food and energy imports from Russia and Ukraine.

In the horn of Africa, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are experiencing the worst hunger situation, a scenario Brown blamed for the high import dependency rate.

The said countries, Brown noted, are grappling with serious import challenges as the Ukraine-Russia war continues coupled with prolonged drought, effects of Covid-19 and impacts of climate change.

Wheat flour prices have increased by close to 30 per cent since February.

During the Nairobi event, Netherlands announced its contribution of €10 million (Sh1.2 billion), paving the way for IFAD to start allocating resources immediately to Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Kenya, he said, will not benefit immediately from the fund, but will in the long term.

IFAD is mobilising member states to contribute to significant resources to cover all 22 countries listed in the Initiative as priorities based on measures of need.

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