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Civil rights group calls for enactment of right to food law in Kenya

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Kenyan civil rights group Wednesday called upon the Kenyan Government to enact a law that would operationalize the Right to Food.

In a rejoinder, the group, including; The Route to Food Initiative (RTFI), Rural Outreach Africa (ROA), Kenya Parliamentary Human Rights Association (KEPHRA) and the Consumers Grassroot Association (CGA) has challenged noted that an estimated 3.5 million people facing severe food crisis and 11 people reported dead due to starvation.

“The inclusion of this important right in our constitution remains one of the biggest gains of the 2010 constitution, yet its realization seems far, 12 years after the promulgation of the Constitution,” the statement read in part.

The group indicated that the text in the constitution explicitly expresses this right under Article 43 1 (c): “every person has a right to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality.”

“As Civil Society, here present, we are happy to help in spearheading a national framework law on the Right to Food, that way, the government can be held accountable for the deaths of the 11 persons,” the said.

On the 8th of September 2021, HE President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the ongoing drought a national disaster. He further announced that his government had allocated 2 billion Kenyan shillings to address the hunger crisis caused by the drought.

Further statements by the government on the drought issue, including the latest update by the government spokesperson, Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna were devoid of clarity on how the government is supporting Kenyans in need of food.

The civil Group Demands

Right to food

Therefore, we, the undersigned organisations, advocate for the realisation of the Right to Food as espoused in the Constitution of Kenya, demand that:

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· The government provides a detailed report on its interventions (shared publicly) – the severity of the situation, including a clear report/clarification on the report about possible deaths due to the hunger situation in the ASAL areas should be explained to all Kenyans.

The number of people reached so far with government interventions should be made clear, and what measures have been put in place to avert further suffering of these honourable citizens of this country. This is the responsibility of the government to provide adequate information on the use of public resources and the management of national disasters.

· The government takes practical steps from now onwards, to avert any further deaths. We remind the current government, through ministries and state agencies involved- that they have not made adequate investments until the situation is averted, or until they have used the last coin of public resources to address the hunger crisis.

· That the government and National Assembly prioritize the development, enactment and rollout of a right to adequate food bill with the requisite policies, accountability and redressal mechanisms, institutional arrangements, and resources. The process should be governed by human rights principles of participation, transparency, equity and inclusion of all relevant stakeholders.

The group urged Kenyans to join in demanding that the plight of brothers and sisters, young and old in the affected counties is addressed.

“We cannot afford to go on with business as usual when our fellow countrymen are staring at starvation. Let us demand that our Right to Adequate Food as people is upheld, respected, and protected by the government,”.

The Civil rights group highlighted the lives and well-being of Kenyans in Kwale, Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Turkana, Samburu, West Pokot, Baringo, Kajiado, Narok, Laikipia, Nyeri, Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Makueni, Kitui, Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera depend on our collective voices.

“We also note that the entire country is staring at a food crisis. Our exposure to the current global crisis is another clear indicator that our investments in food security are missing the target. It is time to re-evaluate our food and farming systems, audit our investments in the sector, and start an honest conversation on how to address food and nutrition security in the country- and build self-sufficiency”,report quoted

In the budget read a few days ago, a paltry 2% was allocated to Agriculture despite the Kenyan government being a signatory to the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, committing to allocate up to 10% of its budget to Agriculture.

“We cannot continue denying the Agricultural Sector and food-related sectors funds, at the expense of sectors like infrastructure,” it said.

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