Despite the progress Kenya has made in reducing hunger, it is among 50 countries where levels of hunger remain serious or alarming, a new global report reveals.
Kenya’s score of 22 places it at number 72 out of a list of 118 countries. The study does not include developed countries because they have extremely low hunger levels.
Even with talk of rising investment in agriculture, Kenya continues to struggle to feed its people, especially its children. One in five Kenyan is undernourished while roughly one in four children is stunted and four per cent are wasted, shows the International Food Policy Research Institute study.
A review of Kenya’s health data by Nation Newsplex confirms that the figures concur with the numbers in the 2016 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey.
In September this year the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) issued drought alerts for 11 counties and an alarm for one. According to the authority’s early warning bulletins, Narok, Kajiado, Taita-Taveta, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River, Kitui, Makueni, Marsabit and Garissa counties are experiencing a decline in food and livestock production as well as water supply. The food security situation in the counties is expected to get worse in the coming weeks. The drought status of Lamu was moved up from alert to alarm.
Besides the counties that the authority listed, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri on Friday added West Pokot, Tharaka-Nithi, Samburu, Wajir, Mandera and Isiolo among the worst-hit counties.
Mr Kiunjuri said 1.3 million Kenyans in 23 counties are affected by the drought, with Kilifi being the worst-hit.
A Kenyan is three times more likely to go hungry compared with a Tunisian. Kenya’s hunger level is 22 and Tunisia’s is 6.
Globally the level of hunger remains alarmingly high, with 795 million people still facing hunger, roughly one in four children affected by stunting, and eight per cent of children affected by wasting.
The countries with the highest hunger levels are the Central African Republic, with a score of 46, and Chad with 44. A Kenyan is three times more likely to go hungry compared with a Tunisian. Kenya’s hunger level is 22 and Tunisia’s is 6. The 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) shows that the level of hunger in developing countries as a group has fallen by a third. But this progress has been uneven and great disparities in hunger continue to exist at the regional and national levels.
A Haitian is almost three times as likely to be undernourished as a Kenyan but the two countries have the same proportion of stunted children. Haiti has the highest share of its population undernourished on the list.
The proportion of undernourishment in the countries with the best record — Argentina and Turkey — is less than one per cent while the level of stunting in each of the two countries is less than 10 per cent.
The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale. Zero is the best score (no hunger), and 100 is the worst, although neither of these extremes is reached in practice.
Across regions and countries, GHI scores differ greatly. Regionally, the highest hunger levels are found in Africa south of the Sahara and South Asia. Although GHI scores for these two regions have declined over time, the current levels are still on the upper end of the serious category and closer to the alarming category than to the moderate.
“Massive disruptions to food systems caused by climate-related disasters and the destruction and displacement of armed conflict take a severe toll, but so too do the poverty and hunger of every day, persisting as a way of life generation after generation, beyond the world’s interest or attention,” said Dr Till Wahnbaeck, chief executive officer of the aid organisation Welthungerhilfe, in the report’s forward.
Kenya’s index, which is in the serious category, is about eight points less than the sub-Saharan Africa average score of 30, a region whose hunger level is three times higher than that in Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s index is double that of North Africa’s score of 12 even though the latter is situated in the Sahara desert. The Near East region’s index is the same as North Africa’s and slightly better than the East and Southeast Asia score of 13.