Kenya is my country and I love it. Let’s just say I’m patriotic, and the last thing I will ever do is write something that can hurt it. But sometimes it just makes me angry.
I can’t believe at this age and time we’re still grappling with food insecurity! Almost fifty-five years after the country gained independence we still have people — the children and the elderly — dying from malnourishement.
The problem, I think, is that we as a people never learn.
As far as I can recall we’ve always been experiencing drought in parts of our country that sometimes gets so severe to the extent of people losing lives. The counties falling in Arid and Semi-Arid (ASALI) are always the most affected. These include, all the counties in Northan, North-Eastern and Eastern parts of Kenya.
Like now almost 1.3 million people are being faced with starvation, and is when the government and the Kenya Red Cross is coming out to ask for donations from anyone of good faith. It’s embarrassing!
Another year. The cycle continues and drought is here again. The government and the Kenya Red Cross are on it again! Begging.
Yesterday morning the Devolution CS, Eugene Wamalwa and the Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General, Abbas Gullet were all over the media asking for donations from Kenyans and anyone else out there to help raise funds. The quoted figures that’s needed was sh. 1.044 billion.
It’s okay. It’s okay to ask for help to feed people. As a matter of fact, no human being should die because of lack of food if there’s someone out there who has excess and is willing to help. It’s in human nature to have that urge to help. So if you feel touched and want to help, go ahead and donate. It’s a blessing.
The problem comes in when as a country we don’t learn from it. No one enjoys begging and equally, no one enjoys the site of beggars. That’s why cities all over the world, through local authorities are always looking for ways of getting beggars off their streets.
The aforementioned areas as said, are Arid and Semi-Arid, which means that annually they receive very little or no rainfall at all. Most of these people are pastoralists who depend on livestock for their livelihood. Livestock, just like humans need to be fed and have clean drinking water to survive. Without these two basic things, the Turkana, Borana, Samburu and other communities lose their cattle, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys.
Whenever that happens they are faced with hunger and starvation. The government comes in and offers short-term solutions and goes back to sleep until the next time when the same problem props up again.
Honestly, are we cursed as a country? Is there not a way we can get rid of this famine issue once and for all?
I think there is. The only problem is that we keep electing selfish leaders into government who think that the responsibility of feeding Citizens lies with another government that will come in after them. They don’t get good policies in place that will ensure no more begging from rich nations to feed the population. The successive governments that come in think there’s someone else who will do all that.
These community need to be taught alternative means of livelihood. They can be taught about crop farming. Since they can’t depend only on rain water like my home in Western Kenya, irrigation should be used. Irrigation schemes like the Galana/Kulalu project should be extended to these regions. We can take parts of Turkana where they already embraced crop farming through irrigation as a case study.
In the span of two years there was so much change in that community. For once in a long time one could see green in the area. The women were excited. They couldn’t believe that dry soil could produce such leafy vegetables and fruits, and maize! Apart from their daily diet of milk blood and meat, they could afford an alternative diet. They could cook ugali like the Luhya.
With a well-managed team, it can happen. Start the project and fund it generously. Make sure it has zero corruption. This another problem that makes all progressive development projects fail. Most people see everything as an opportunity to steal and get rich without thinking about the repercussions it might have on the lives of others.
An individual gets away with billions of tax payers money and walks Scott free. How many trees can, let’s say ksh. 1billion plant? Money we keep losing. And can you imagine the impact the trees would have on the environment! It brings me to another very important point. Reducing desertification by planting more trees and stopping further deforestation in the country.
Trees help in creating rainfall and protecting water catchment areas which helps prevent streams and rivers from drying. You visit these drought prone regions and one thing you will notice is that they lack trees. In Kenya we have a very small percentage of forest cover, and ironically, this is the headquarters of the UNEP.
With the ongoing destructive deforestation and very little afforestation efforts, we will continue to experience water crisis. Of course we are all too aware of what Cape Town in South Africa has been going through in the recent past with respect to water.
With no water we will always have food insecurity and we will continue begging as a country. As I finish, I want my country to start taking its responsibilities very seriously. Put measures in places to ensure this is the last time we are asking for donations to feed our people. We have the potential!
Maybe Kenya and Africa was better off as a jungle than what it is today. At least back then the villages had enough food and clean drinking water for everyone. Now we have skyscrapers with dry taps!