, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21- Droves of participants came out to stretch their legs, Saturday, in support of the Annual Freedom from Hunger Walk.
With a third of Kenya\’s population still undernourished and over 2.7 million people needing food assistance, Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Romano Kiome said that food insecurity in Kenya poses real social challenges.
The theme for this year\’s Walk, "Conserve environment for Food Security," drew government officials, corporate sponsors, educational institutions and individuals alike to trek the 18-kilometre course.
Mr Kiome said the theme is "appropriate as our livelihoods heavily depend on how we manage our natural resources."
"We are faced with frequent droughts and erratic rainfall patterns posing threat to our fragile food systems. The country cannot continue to rely on rain-fed agriculture. We are exploring ways of harnessing our limited water resources to exploit our irrigation potential," he added.
The Kenya Freedom from Hunger Council raised Sh6 million through last year\’s walk giving 80 percent of funds to projects addressing issues of food and nutrition security.
Michael G. Ojiambo, General Secretary of Kenya Freedom from Hunger Council (KFFHC) said the main objective for this year\’s walk is to provide water to vulnerable farmers in dry areas.
"We expect to raise about Sh10 million. Our objective is to supply small-scale irrigation to vulnerable farmers to stimulate food security. We are looking at the costs of dams because they multiply effects in dry areas and provide water for crops," he said.
With a projected number of 10,000 participants and 20 corporate sponsors the KFFHC hopes to exceed its target for this year\’s walk; however some participants seemed concerned about the turnout.
Cliff Mwavali, one of the first to complete the walk, has been participating since 1995 and said over the last few years he has noticed a gradual decline in numbers.
"It\’s not the way it used to be some few years back. The number that turned out today is a little bit lower. If we continue with this trend maybe in five or ten years it will be over. We need more sponsors and advertisement and encourage people to turn up so we can bring it back to what it was," he said.
To raise more awareness for the event, Mr Ojiambo said he hopes the media can give favourable packages to NGOs like the KFFHC so that less funds are spent on advertising and more can actually go to the intended projects.
The KFFHC has been in operation since 1970 and implemented over one thousand projects and programmes in various parts of the country.
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