For the past several years, the Republic of Kenya has been stricken with one food crisis after another. This vulnerable country has experienced poverty specific injury on a variety of security concerns. The citizens have been subject to extreme violence and conflict, much of which has stemmed from government corruption and unethical elections.
In Nairobi, the impact of this corruption on the urban poor has been devastating. Poverty in Nairobi means extreme food shortages and a lack of basic resources. The burden of this has disproportionately been inflicted upon those who dwell in Nairobi’s sprawling and overpopulated slums. Nearly 4 million people live in the grueling poverty of these slums and struggle to survive in conditions so horrible, the extremity providing its own cover of anonymity from the outside world.
There is a concern that this could be the next crisis Kenya faces. With a population projected to increase more than tenfold by 2050, and with more than 60 percent of the population expected to reside in urban areas by 2030, the implications of the situation only stand to worsen.
The government has declared yet another food crisis, and does not have effective agencies or policy to contend with this extreme manifestation of poverty. The poverty in Nairobi’s slums would constitute a humanitarian crisis anywhere else. Normally, for a given geographic location to have a malnutrition rate of over 15 percent, there would be an emergency declared and a response expected from the global community. Poverty in Nairobi is so extreme that NGO’s and the government are not equipped to administer aid to the millions of starving children and families. There is also no long term plan to try and lessen human suffering or contain the damage from this food crisis.
Without effective governance there is no one to implement a solution. Without effective policy a solution does not exist. Poverty in Nairobi and throughout Kenya is government created and government maintained through corruption and ineptitude.
From the soaring price of maize at more than 133 percent, to an overall declining income of more than 20 percent, to the increasing numbers of Kenyans relocating to urban centers, there has been enough indication of this crisis only worsening to implore international response. The burden on families has only increased with significant numbers of children being removed from school to help provide income as well as an alarming spike in the number of children being forced into sex work.
Unless the government can contend with this crisis and implement a policy that would implement long term goals to guarantee food security and stability, there can be no reprieve.
– Nina Verfaillie