By Caroline Wahome
On 20 September, Hivos East Africa launched the Sustainable Diets for All (SD4ALL) programme in Nakuru County, Kenya, one of the thematic programmes under the Strategic Partnerships funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Kenya joins Uganda, Zambia, Bolivia and Indonesia, as the 5th country to be implementing the SD4ALL programme.
Closing the gap between production and consumption
Speaking during the launch, Nakuru County Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Dr Immaculate Njuthe acknowledged that while 70 per cent of the total Nakuru County land is highly agriculturally productive, malnutrition levels are also high, with stunting of children being recorded at 28 per cent.
Dr Immaculate observed a major disconnect between what is produced versus what is consumed. She recognised the need for dietary champions within the community, stating that, “Beyond the policy, there is the practice. I would like the 55 elected Members of Council Assembly to be the food ambassadors in the County.”
Bancy Kubutha, representing the Nakuru Civil Society Forum, indicated the forum’s ability to serve as a link to the greater community. The CSO’s community networks and sector working groups such as agriculture, water, health and education, which the consortium has already established, are the ideal avenue for this. The Civil Society Forum also hosts the Governor’s round-table twice a year and sees this as an opportunity to integrate the SD4ALL programme within the country, as it is an opportunity to meet with policy makers.
Food issues are political
Also present at the launch was hip-hop artist Julius Owino, popularly known as Juliani, who declared food issues in the country to be political. “Food is political in Kenya. It’s a power play,” said the musician, with whom Hivos will be working as a champion for youth. Juliani also stressed the need for citizen engagement to ensure the prosperity of the programme.
Malnutrition in Kenya
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries’ Strategic Plan (2013-2017), it is estimated that about 47 per cent of Kenya’s population is food insecure. Approximately two million people are in constant need of food relief, with the figure rising to almost four million during floods and drought. Malnutrition is one of the biggest threats to the country’s attainment of Vision 2030http://e-promis.treasury.go.ke/portal/development-strategy/vision-2030/ and the achievement of Article 43 (1) (c) in Kenya’s Constitution, which is to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality. In Nakuru County, the stunting of children is reported at 28 per cent and wasting at 5 per cent, while obesity and those underweight reported to be at six and 10 percent respectively.
The Sustainable Diets for All Programme seeks to improve the national and local food systems in order to achieve a more sustainable, affordable, healthy, nutritious and affordable foods for low-income earners. The programme focuses on citizen participation, lobby and advocacy (influencing policies and practices of market and government actors) and strengthening of advocacy capacities of civil society actors in implementing countries.
In Kenya, Hivos will work with Building Eastern Africa Community Network (BEACON) as the implementing partner.