In the Kenyan rural villages we connect with, life was very tough before covid struck. Life was tough before the locusts came, and the floods…….but now covid as well. The Bungoma area, where we work with Pastor Nicholas, has been designated by the Government as one of the Covid hotspots. I wish I could report that the vaccination programme was going well, but the truth is it isn’t… not yet anyway.
One of the main issues for the people in the villages is the huge price increase on all foods but especially the staples….. maize, wheat, rice and Irish (potatoes). There are about 12 million people in Kenya who are food poor. These are people whose income doesn’t allow them to eat enough calories to maintain a healthy lifestyle, about two-thirds of these individuals live in the rural areas. Strangely the wheat, rice and potatoes are largely imported, but the maize is home grown.
So the challenge is to help/teach the villagers to diversify the crops, but to do this they need help to reduce reliance on rainfed agricultural systems, and to plant modern varieties, thereby building resilience against the effects of climate change, and improve agricultural market systems and infrastructure.
The coronavirus outbreak has hugely added to the challenge because markets have been closed, and the delivery of food has been disrupted. Kenya’s food system is heavily dominated by small, independent transporters as the link between producers and consumers and small retailers. This traditional informal system accounts for about 90% of the market.
Middle class people have been able to continue to shop in the supermarkets which have remained open, but for our poor guys in the rural villages shopping in a supermarket is out of the question. If the market is closed they can’t sell or buy. At PottersHeart we have been able to send out financial help to buy maize and beans, to feed some of the families we are working with…….but we know this is not the long term answer.
Looking ahead the question of food security has to be addressed, how can we/you help…… If anyone reading this has any ideas/comments/expertise please contact us, we would love to hear from you.