By Mirriam Rioba
Dear Mr. Politician
I understand you are on a mission to place bid for positions in the 2022 upcoming elections. Congratulations. However, my fear is whether you of substance or are a mere carbon copy of your predecessors. Your predecessors have failed Kenyans. They prioritized on image scrambling over regional seats, building treaties, and taking loans for ‘development’. A typical scenario of putting pretty wallpaper in a house over badly cracked walls just to make it appealing enough for the next tenant. This was a show to allow them loot public funds and international loans at the expense of the common mwananchi. We are now plunged in debt greater than our GDP, and wananchi at grassroots level are experiencing challenges in accessing basic needs especially food.
all she needs is affordable access to a balanced meal, clean water, basic education, proper sanitation and medical care. Despite her minimal demands she remains neglected by those currently in office. Currently, 10 million Kenyans are at risk of chronic food insecurity and are affected by poor nutrition. Another roughly 4 million Kenyans will need emergency food assistance at any given time when the nation is hit by a calamity. At least 2 million children are chronically malnourished. All these facts summarised from the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute show the great danger that threatens our country if you do not put up sustainable policies in place that will increase accessibility and affordability of food for all Kenyans.
Your predecessors have constantly told us there is enough food in our reserves, but in two separate incidents; when different parts of the country were infested with locusts, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, they could not and cannot provide enough relief food for citizens living below the poverty line. Consequently, every night, somewhere across Kenya, a family goes to bed hungry because of lack of proper planning.
The challenge lies, not in the availability of food, but in the placement of sustainable systems that will see to every family having a decent meal. Despite the claims of having enough food in reservoirs, a recently broadcasted news item showed a woman boiling stones for her children to ‘eat’ and sleep on a ‘full’ stomach
A majority of our leaders play dumb claiming there is no evidence of any cases of food insecurity even when proof is provided, instead of conducting research and identifying people at risk of food insecurity.
Dear Mr Politician, this is not an isolated case, and from the incident, it is clear that the issue is in the planning of how food in reservoirs can get to people in need of relief food. A policy plan that allows people at risk of food insecurity to gain access to governmental aid, in food supplies is a solution to food insecurity. As a good leader, investing in research and innovation, educating and supporting communities on agribusiness; to improve local food production will also provide a cushion to families who contribute to the statistics of those affected by poor nutrition. With over 60% of our national budget clustered in recurrent expenditures, cutting redundant costs can allow for food systems to be set in place.
Mr Politician, when one puts wallpaper over cracked walls, instead of repairing the walls, at some point the building crumbles. However, a good leader will fix the cracks in the system or come up with a stronger and new foundation. There are multiple options the government can explore to ensure proper food systems. Solutions ranging from setting up devolved food systems for counties, to providing relief food to identified counties at risk of food insecurity, to educating and investing in group led agricultural ventures are amongst options open to any leader who wants to prosper with the people. With a proper food system in place, you will have less worry concerning local labour for the over glamourized infrastructure projects, mortality rates and medical care expenses.
2022 is just around the corner and the political arena is already in a fracas. Good leadership is ensuring you many families can sustainably exist for your five year tenure without being at risk of food insecurity. True leaders are those that understand they must have a flock to lead, and this flock can only exist when the food systems in place. Currently, no one cares about the roads built, when we have no food. We have no interest in international alliances, if all you do is loot the money. We have no interest in promises. We are hungry. If you do not plan for sustainable food systems in place, the only thing of interest to us would be more hospitals, morgues and cemetery grounds. But who will you lead if you lose the people?
Maseke Mirriam Rioba is a skilled public speaker and a commumications enthusiast. She is passionate about building individual speaking capabilities of interested parties Reach out via email@example.com