The Famine in East Africa

Somalia has been in civil war for the last 20 years and counting, causing a major disruption of normal day life. Apart from the people who have been killed and injured in the battles, Somalia’s agriculture sector is literally on it’s death bed, unable to feed even a tenth of the 10 million population of Somalia. Fishing along the coast line has died largely due to toxic waste from passers-by and unscrupulous corporations and governments but that’s a blog post for another day, today is Blog Action Day (#BAD11) and since it coincided with world food day (#WorldFoodDay), the topic is FOOD, or in this case of East Africa the lack of it. 

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Ever since the civil war broke out in 1991, our brothers and sisters  from somalia have been seeking refuge in Kenya primarily in the North Eastern Province and Eastleigh, and South B & C in Nairobi. This huge influx of  people into Kenya, coupled with Kenya’s fast growing population and shrinking farm yields, is a recipe for disaster.

Kenya’s food supply is also not dependable. Due to climate change, poor farming methods and lack of investment has left most farmers running losses, many converting uprooting their plants and developing real estate which has a bigger ROI (Return on Investment).

What Should Be Done

  1. Research; We need scientists developing new seeds that can thrive in the hunger-stricken regions. Kenya Agricultural Research Institute is leading by example launching many types of drought-resistant and pest-resistant.
  2. Water Harvesting; Kenya receives a substantial amount of rainfall each year, we should harvest this precious commodity using ponds, water pans, tanks, storage is the main issue here.
  3. Value Addition; It is estimated that farmers lose up to 40% of their produce due to poor storage facilities. We should use solar driers to dry fruits and vegetables, giving them a longer shelf life while retaining the nutrients. We should also research on safe ways of storing food and avoid waste to the maximum.
  4. Investment; Everyone should look at agriculture as a viable business because it is as you can read in this blog post here. Both private and public sectors should bring heads together and finance innovative solutions to make farming and food production more efficient that the underlying price comes down.
  5. Land Policy; The way land is distributed in Kenya does not support farming and efficient food production. First of all, less than 14% of Kenyans own land in Kenya and majority of those who own it are leaving it idle. The most productive land in Kenya, which is mainly the central and Rift Valley highlands, is used for growing tea and coffee, commodities which contribute very little to the food chain, yet use up so much of our resources.

What else do you think should be done? Please feel free to share your wise ideas in the comments section below…

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