• Lucia Lebasha

Agriculture the best way to deal with hunger in Northern Kenya

By Lucia Epur Lebasha

Hunger refers to the uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food; craving appetite. It is an aspect that for long, has been talked of in various countries, and according to statistics, African countries are the most affected.

Hunger is common in northern Kenya, especially the arid and the semi-arid regions’ occupied by pastoralists. These are nomadic communities, whose main source of living is livestock.

The conditions in these areas are not good, since they experience rains very few times of the year. This gives a reason as to why agriculture is not developed in the areas.

Agricultural activities are the core source of food in the world. In this regions, need of food support is really wanting. Cases of people dying of hunger have been reported. Though there has been food support from the government and non-governmental organisations, this solution is not enough for the ever-moving nomadic communities. If various agricultural systems are integrated, these regions can be turned up to food production areas, which can finally feed it’s own population.

There are various ways of reacting to this situation of food security in order to come up with sustainable ways of feeding the planet on a larger scale. This includes:

  • Investments in agricultural technologies that produce more with less use of resources. Resource-efficient agricultural technologies and practices, such as no-till farming, nitrogen-use efficiency, precision agriculture and drip irrigation help to get more nutrients with more efficient use of all inputs and natural resources.

  • Unsustainable natural resource use for food production is a source of inefficiency. Inefficient agricultural subsidies in many developed and developing countries promote overuse of natural resources and increase carbon emissions. Re-prioritisation of limited resources towards high-return investments is needed to increase efficiency and eliminate hunger and malnutrition. However, the removal of such subsidies may cause food prices to increase with negative implications for poor producers and consumers. In this case, strong social safety nets have a key role to play.

  • There is an urge to achieve substantial improvement in nutrition, of which investments in both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions are needed. Nutrition-specific interventions, such as micro-nutrient supplementation and adolescent health and pre-conception nutrition, help to address the immediate causes of under-nutrition. Nutrition-sensitive interventions, such as agriculture and food security programmes and social safety nets, address the underlying causes of under-nutrition.

  • Gender inequality also leads to inefficient allocation of resources. This results in reduced agricultural productivity and poor nutrition and health outcomes. Support for gender equality in agriculture, such as increased land rights, contributes to higher agricultural output as well as improved nutrition and health for women and children, as research demonstrates.

The reason as to why I am not in total agreement with the food relief is that even after being given one’s share during the food donations, still, these people will need food afterwards.

Again, the food support is not consistent and most organisations actually chip in when the situation is extreme. The other reason is that, most of these communities are polygamists, which means that the family members are often too many to be taken care of. It is good to come up with better solutions to this, of which, investment in Agriculture is the solution.