Feeding Kenya: It’s Not That Systems Haven’t Been There!

Through corporate Kenya’s effort, we are feeding Kenya. To use the twitter hash tags: #Kenyans4Kenya, we are/have/shall #feedKE

I understand, there was a need, and the need is being addressed. To every Kenyan, and indeed, any well-wisher who has donated to these worthy initiatives in some way or other, thank you is too small a phrase to show appreciation! Kenyans have indeed proven to have hearts of gold, to be a compassionate lot, able to rally behind a cause and make a significant mark/change.

Now I ask: Why is it that we didn’t rally behind the government?

Let me explain further. These are reactionary responses to a crisis that wasn’t duly addressed until it was almost too late. We need to accept that simple fact for what it is.

The current Kenyan government has 7 of its institutions mandated with food security as an objective, namely:

* Office of the President
* Ministry of Agriculture
* Ministry of Health
* Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development
* Ministry of Water Development
* Ministry of Education
* Central Bureau of Statistics

In fact, so ‘structured’ is Kenya’s food security, that there’s a Kenya Food Security Meeting. A clearly well thought out system. All this unbeknownst to me, and I believe a vast majority of the Kenyans for whom this ‘meeting’ is intended for. A well done website,’The Meeting’ has. Easy to navigate and what not.

Meanwhile, this is an excerpt from the initial government statement when the current drought crisis finally started generating the due buzz.

“I. Currently, the Government does not lack food to feed the hungry. The government has set aside 10.5 billion shillings to feed Kenyans. However it is of great worry that despite the amount of money some Kenyans in some areas are sleeping hungry and starving; something that is totally unacceptable.

II. The problem is not that the Government does not have food or has not provided money for food. The problem lies in the system of distribution and logistics. The system that has been used in the past of taking food to a central area and redistributing it is not efficient and it means that Kenyans suffer whereas food is being held awaiting transportation. The government is changing this system and adopting better and more innovative ways of feeding Kenyans.”

{I advise anyone who wants to get the government’s stance on this and indeed all Kenyan matters to do so, not through media houses, but through the Office of Public Communications. This is a whole other matter to be written about some other time.}

It is almost a fact that the Kenyan government does not have fans outside of itself.(Understandably so). But Kenyans, let’s be clear on who/what we direct our disdain towards. Is it the governance system, or the people WE have entrusted with the system that we are so angry at, so disillusioned by, so apathetic towards?

I read a post today where someone said that Kenyans have stuck the middle finger at the government and shown that they can hold out their own( I paraphrase). And I take that to be the general sentiment. So are we saying that we can let the government be, whenever they feel the need to address matters affecting Kenyans they can catch up with whatever initiative we will have set up then?

The drought warning was issued a while back,as far back as January of this year. Poor Kenya Meteorological Department was ignored as any ‘prophet of doom’ is.

Who is effectively the government’s watchdog? Is it PLO Lumumba and his team over at Integrity Centre? No, dear Kenyans, it is we. They all are just people we employ to hold these offices! If PLO has shown us anything, it is that reluctance takes over the moment a keen eye shifts focus.

We have always imagined and hoped that a parliament turnover will solve the problem. But if we also don’t change our mind set, if we don’t take up our duty to this country, if we don’t critically assess the role of government and instead malign it in our hearts, if we dare think that corporates are our saving grace…we will be digging this already deep enough hole down to the pits of hell.

So while we feed Kenya through our collective contributions, never mind that we have paid taxes to the same effect, while we ‘stick our middle finger’ at the government and those running it, let’s remember, food security systems exist. It is unfortunate that they haven’t been effective, and it’s downright embarrassing for the government to admit to this fact. It is saddening to read stories such as these!!! Let’s call on the government to do something other than setting up commissions, institutions and ineffective systems in place!!

There’s an irreplaceable role the government plays. But it won’t effectively do so without due pressure from the electorate for whom it exists.