NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 11 – Kenya has been ranked among the countries facing serious hunger challenges in the world in a new report released on Tuesday.
The report by the International Food Policy Research Institute placed Kenya in position 50 in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) – a situation characterised as serious.
This has been attributed to unpredictable food prices due to the country’s dependence on food imports.
Nicholas Minot, a Senior Research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute said to reverse the situation, the government needed to adopt policies to promote economic growth and provide social protection for vulnerable households.
“By Sub Saharan Africa status, Kenya does fairly well in the Global Hunger Index. On the other hand it doesn’t show a great deal of progress, so there has been some progress but certainly not very dramatic progress,” Minot explained.
“We can’t eliminate price volatility completely but we can help households adjust to it,” he said.
He noted that this could be done through strengthening social protection systems, improving emergency preparedness and investing in sustainable small scale agriculture.
“The impacts of this deteriorated food security are most acute on young children,” said Lilly Schofield, Evaluation and Research Support Advisor at Concern Worldwide.
Elvis Lumbasio, Senior Programme Officer at German Agro Action emphasised that it’s not only poor people in the city who suffer from higher and volatile food prices but also rural communities.
“For people living in rural Kenya, usually prices are very low directly after the harvest when the supply of food is high and you find that most of rural small holders are forced to sell their products directly after harvest because there is dire need of immediate cash,” Lumbasio stated.
“The current hunger crisis in the horn of Africa clearly shows how fragile regional food security still is and how vulnerable people are to external shocks,” he added.
Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia were the worst affected by hunger according to the Index.
From the 1990 GHI to the 2011 GHI, the hunger situation is said to have worsened in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, North Korea, the Comoros, Swaziland and Cote d’ Ivoire.
Countries classified in the report as having “extremely alarming” levels of hunger are Burundi, Chad, DRC and Eritrea.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is said to have the highest level of hunger in the world.
“DRC stands out. Its GHI score rose about 63 percent owing to conflict and political instability,” the report states in part.
The 2011 Global Hunger Index was calculated for 122 developing countries and those in transition.
This year’s GHI reflects the most recent country level data from 2004-2009 on three components – the proportion of people who are undernourished, the proportion of children under five who are underweight and the under-five child mortality rate.
The report was launched ahead of the World Food Day to be marked on Sunday.