Kenya’s problem is lack of stewardship


We live in a wonderful land. One endowed with diverse resources yet one wonders why our country has very high levels of poverty.

From the fertile areas of western, rift valley and aberdares regions to the pastoralist communities in the North and even the mineral rich areas in Ukambani and Western Kenya. We have numerous resources such as sand, limestone, building stones, soda ash and precious stones.

It is sad that even with all these our people perennially face hunger while a majority live in very poor conditions. It is bad enough to be poor but when the poor are hungry it is dehumanizing!

It is a shame that we are currently feeding our pastoralist communities while in just less than a year ago they were owners of millions of livestock, which have now died from drought.

It is baffling that in Ukambani where we have richest deposits of limestone and sand and coal people there constantly survive on relief food. The problem in these areas is not their lack of resources but the laxity of both the people there and our government to maximise the resources.

It does not take rocket science to know that if these resources had been harnessed and their values realised people there would have more than they need for food.
Stewardship and entrepreneurship holds the key to food security and eradication of poverty in our country.

From where I sit, our problem is not the lack of resources but the failure to exploit and maximise on what we have. It surprises me how a farmer in Kiambu can make a decent living from just a quarter of an acre through zero grazing dairy farming whereas those endowed with large tracts of land in other areas cannot match the return from quarter an acre of land.

For me, this calls for up scaling of civic competence and economic empowerment across the land. We must find a way of transferring useful information and knowledge to those who need to apply it to some economic and social benefit.

And by far this must be viewed as the key task of community, political and religious leaders who must actively create an intersection between the knowledge industry and the ordinary Kenyans.

In this era we should not be keeping cows that give just a cup of milk after a daylong tending, as I have seen in some areas in this country. This is not even enough to feed a family. The farmer keeping a dairy cow should aspire to rear a cow that will give enough milk for his family and spare more for selling to enable him/her afford other basic necessities.

Jesus taught this subject of entrepreneurship using the parable of the talents in Mathew 25. In this passage there are three servants and a master. The Master allocated a measure of resources to each. To one he gave five talents, another two and the third one. The one who got five made five more, the one with two made an equivalent but the one who got one made nothing. He went and buried it in the soil and produced it when the master came back.

It is a high time that Kenyans adopted the spirit and diligence of the first and second servants who diligently multiplied their talents. It is time to engage our minds and identify what we can do with the resource we have to produce more to feed ourselves and sell to our neighbors. It is time to make our hands dirty.
It is time we abandoned the spirit of laziness and helplessness exhibited by the last servant who hid his resource.

The elite in this country are not to be excused. They may actually be the people sitting on good arable land for prestigious and speculative purposes. They could spur both economic empowerment and entrepreneurship by either engaging and investing in modern production or releasing their land assets to those who could exploit them. To engage production in value addition and marketing will require their capital as well as sophistication.

How about professionals from North Eastern coming together to help establish a meat processing plant there where the pastoralists can sell their animals at a good price and make a living?

I wonder why none of the politicians in Northern Kenya has used part of the Constituency Development Fund to help establish a meat processing plant.

A good example of such a community initiative is the Githunguri dairy plant that is processing Fresha milk. The dairy farmers there now earn some decent living.
Our people are exploited by selfish middlemen who buy their products at throw away prices only to make a kill out of it later. It is time we established producer organizations such as the Githunguri example and ensured that they get maximum yields for what they produce.

This calls for concerted efforts. The peasant farmer, miner, pastoralist, community leaders, politicians, the elite and the State need to stand up and do something.

What our country lacks is the spirit of stewardship and entrepreneurship. We plough land and tender our animals as a matter of routine and pride. Those with minerals such as sand and precious rocks sell them for mere subsistence income to survive instead of applying an entrepreneur mind to maximize returns.

Can our leaders and community elites in whom the society has so heavily rise to be counted and engage pragmatically in poverty alleviation and stop crying for the government to do things that are the purview of the enterprising citizens?

(Canon Karanja is the General Secretary, the National Council of Churches of Kenya)

10 Replies to “Kenya’s problem is lack of stewardship”

  1. The Canon has missed several points: 1) Is the productivity of 1/4 acre in Kiambu same as 1/4 acre in Wajir? 2) Does proximity to Nairobi have an influence on the value of the agricultural produce? The Canon’s reasoning is out of context and misleading. I thought he would say that each region of Kenya should be supported to engage economically in the most appropriate “trade”.

  2. Laxity is plenty everywhere .. even in Kiambu. Your comment is informed by your prejudices. If you wish to help people, just do it without demeaning other communities!

  3. Twanya the point here is enterprenuership…do somthing with what yu have… “This calls for concerted efforts. The peasant farmer, miner, pastoralist, community leaders, politicians, the elite and the State need to stand up and do something. “

  4. The fact that everyone has a right to their opinion does not warrant you base your argument on ignorance and completely missing the point on what is being said.
    Edsonodhiambo just because you did not agree on the issue of the new constitution doesnt make make what the Canon anyless true.Kenya is endowed with lots of resources that with proper stewardship as he mention will pull alot of Kenyans out of the rut of poverty that we as a people,we as a continent are in and continue to be in.JogooKimakia,The Canon merely pointed out a success story,something that has worked,he showed  that when you get out of your “Victim” mindset may be then you’ll see what he means.No one undermined any community you chose to read into non existent undertones in his views.
    Would your views apply if he’d given an example of another region..
    Fact:Kenya needs leaders,stewards who can be trusted to facilitate the exploitation and equal benefit
    from our resources.Fact:Unless we stop our pathetic and petty ethnic mindsets Kenya is going nowhere.Simple and Clear!

  5. I agree with Canon. Until we critic our doing things, including attitudes, we as a country will go nowhere. In today’s (6th Sept.) Newspapers Kenyatta University had hundreds of admissions to students in various areas of study. I am not sure the education we are giving our children is socializing them sufficiently to tackle the myriad problems that we face or is a all we want are paper degrees and more. It amazes that in most communities, the younger generation is more learned but apparently less productive, less honest and focused and very selfish.  

  6. Sir i agree with u about the question of being endowed with rich resources but my big question is ” As you criticize others what have you done as a person and as the Sec Gen of a big organization as NCCK to change the situation or more still How many times have you risen to be counted?….?????”

  7. The biggest problem is the right kind of attitude among leaders. For example, the coal in Ukambani is still lying in the ground while our tea factories spend a lot of money importing oil, or contribute to deforestation by using firewood. Surely there should be a way of linking, for example, coal with tea factories in order to reduce energy costs. This is just one example but there are many others Kenyans can think of.

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