15m Kenyans suffer from hunger pangs, 2019 report

Friday, March 13th, 2020 00:00 | By
World Without Hunger Country director Kelvin Shingles during the official launch of the Global Hunger Index in Nairobi. Photo/PD/TABITHA MBATIA

At least 15.7 million Kenyans are suffering from chronic hunger and poor nutrition annually, the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2019 report, reveals.

The report paints a grim picture of a country facing food insecurity crisis with another 13.8 million Kenyans being undernourished.

The report comes hot on the heels  of invasion of 26 counties by desert locusts with the second phase of outbreak expected in the next two weeks according to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.

“Emergency of this nature where locusts are destroying food crops and pasture must be a cause of the alarm and food insecurity is real,” he said.

 Kelvin Shingles, Country Director, World Without Hunger said poor policies, climate change and conflict were the catalysts of the food insecurity.

 The country according to United Nations losses at least two per cent of the Gross Domestic Product because of climate change.

“We have a lot of regulations, policies on food security but need to filter down to counties and in households to embrace them,” he said.

 He said the epicentre of the invasion include Marsabit, Isiolo, Samburu, Turkana and Garissa.

 Shingles said conflict, especially in Arid and Semi Arid Areas because of natural resources, pasture, and water, also impact on food security whereas climate change propel conflict further.

 The report concentrated on three indicators; child mortality, child undernutrition and inadequate food security.

“Kenya is among the hungriest country in the world according to the GHI ranking it is in position 86 out of 117,” said Shingles.

The report shows that 29.4 per cent of the population is undernourished translating to 13.8 million Kenyans.

 On child mortality, 26.2 of children below the age of five are stunted.  The anxiety has also been shared by USaid stating the consequences of malnutrition should be a significant concern for policy makers.

 USaid says out of a total under-5 population of seven million, 1.82 million children (26 per cent) are suffering from chronic malnutrition (stunting or low height-for-age).

The country also records a 4.6 per cent of mortality for children below the age of five annually because of hunger.

 Kenya dropped nine  positions in ranking from 77 in 2018 to position 86 in 2019.

 “Kenya food security is termed serious because of extreme weather such as floods, drought and the current evasion of locust is worsening the situation,” he added.

Mitigation measures include fair financing, preparation and better disaster responses, address climate change, diversification and growing drought-resistant crops.

 The worst is Central African Republic at position 117 where half of all children below five years are stunted.  Sixty percent of the population in the country is undernourished.

Chad is ranked position 116, Yemen (115) while Belarus ranked 1st followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Last year, Kenya ranked position 147 out of 189 in the inequalities in human development report.

 The United Nation Development Programme  report, dubbed Human Development 2019, indicated at least 17 million Kenyans live below the poverty line.

 UNDP Kenya Resident Representative Walid Badawi said the inequalities were due to poor policies, politics, expanding gap between poor and the rich and the emergence of new types of inequalities.

 “Inequalities are not about wealth alone but access to opportunities, education, and health,” said Badawi.

  Unemployment, gender inequality, skills mismatch, lack access to education, health has been highlighted as the main cause of inequality in Human Development which starts from birth.

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