The latest news reports show that famine is being experienced in 12 counties across Kenya with the worst hit being Turkana county where around 805,000 people out of 1.2 million are faced with starvation.
When people are hungry and malnourished, they are less able to improve their livelihoods; adequately care for their families; live full and healthy lives and lift themselves out of poverty. Children are especially vulnerable—malnutrition in the first two years of life can result in physical and cognitive damage that diminishes future health, welfare and economic well-being.
This presents a drain on development with effects that can last for generations. Hunger impairs a person’s ability to be part of a productive workforce, and contribute to economic growth. In the short term, food shortages and rising food prices can widen inequality, and lead to conflict and instability.
It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. If done right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centered rural development and protecting the environment; bearing in mind that zero hunger is one of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).
So what can we do to end hunger now and in the future?
Counties and communities should sustainably manage landscapes such as farms, forests, watersheds and fisheries so that they are more productive.
County governments and financial institutions should empower farmers by providing crop insurance, expanding access to financial services and improving access to resources for women and the youth.
But food security is not just a question of increased productivity. Up to 1/3 of all food produced is wasted—mainly during production, storage and transport. To reduce food waste, county governments should implement modern food storage and distribution systems, as well as improve the agro-supply chains. The issue of food crises and price volatility – which makes food unaffordable for the poor – should be addressed by county governments contributing to tools that improve agricultural market transparency.
Food insecurity should be approached with a holistic approach – using expertise in agriculture, sustainable management, logistics, irrigation, and research and analysis to implement integrated solutions.