A special report was carried out today the 25th March 2022 by the Daily Nation Newspaper titled “Do they even care?” The report indicates that the nation is staring at a humanitarian crisis of monumental proportions. The report goes on to say, in the lowlands of Baringo where bandits roam every night, the combined effects of drought and insecurity have robbed thousands of their livelihoods, while millions across the country can barely afford to put a meal on the table every day. The story depicts what one would describe as “Children of a lesser god.”
Sometimes one is tempted to think that we have a crop of leaders who do not seem to know why they wanted to be in leadership in the first place. The cost of living is rising yet there appears to be no political will to mitigate the gloomy situation.
Barely a month has passed when Kenyans took to social media to protest the rising cost of food and groceries under the hashtag, Lower Food Prices, the netizens decried the increase in prices of basic food commodities such as sifted maize flour, bread, vegetables, and fruits. Their cry seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
The majority of Kenyans are feeling the pinch, the fluctuations in food prices are hurting them, they have expressed their frustrations, but those in leadership have mastered the art of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
Further complicating the response is the security situations in some parts of the country and the ongoing early political campaigns that have made our political leaders shift their allegiance. They are louder in the “political podiums” than in the National Assembly, promising the hungry what they will do when they get to power after the forthcoming general elections forgetting that they have the same power now to do the right thing and do it quickly to curb the risks of serve hunger and starvation being experienced in the country.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) monthly Consumer Price Index Food inflation rose 8.89 percent in January 2022 despite the decline in the overall rate of inflation. One would argue that in both 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 global pandemic and its economic fallout significantly increased hunger and malnutrition around the world, but is it not the responsibility of the government to reassure its citizens of food security and stable market prices?
Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK), a consumer lobby group is pushing for the reduction of VAT on cooking gas to eight per cent ahead of the upcoming 2022-2023 budget whose highlights will be presented in Parliament on April 7.
“If Kenya had the storage capacity, it would have stored 90-day stocks of cheap oil when the prices had fallen to $25 a barrel during the height of COVID-19 pandemic and release it when prices are high to stabilize market prices.” Cofek stated.
As much as the proposals by the lobby group is welcomed, the government has to take drastic measures to cushion Kenyans against high living costs and the on going hunger in bigger picture because so many people are desperate and hurting.
In the meantime, the Aid agencies say only a tiny fraction of the funds needed for food assistance has been raised, as the world focuses on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
Proverbs says this:
The king’s heart is in the hands of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it whenever He wishes – Proverbs 21:1
I pray that God will take the heart of our leaders and guide it like a channel of water that will lead them to change course, and give justice to the poor and food to the hungry.