This East African nation is known for stability. But drought and rising prices are fueling insecurity in a nation that once enjoyed a thriving tourism industry.
By Laleh Farhi
NAIROBI, Kenya, November 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Rising food prices and a deteriorating drought in East Africa are fuelling insecurity within and among pastoralist communities and triggering a humanitarian crisis, experts said.
Since 2015, food prices have jumped by 50 percent in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, according to a 2018 report by Oxfam, the U.N. and the World Food Programme (WFP). In Tanzania, prices have gone up by 20 percent.
The drought has hit already parched communities and brought about a fall in agricultural production, according to Kenya’s national emergency committee that monitors events.
“We are on a knife edge, and we know that a whole lot of people are already suffering from hunger,” said Stephen Kiswah, chairman of the emergency committee.
“We are seeing all levels of government coming together to help us in this humanitarian crisis,” he said.
But many in East Africa, including pastoralists and farmers, are still struggling to make ends meet.
“We are struggling to feed ourselves, we are struggling to feed our children and we are struggling to make ends meet,” said one woman farmer from the Kisii region of Kenya.
She said her family had to sell their cattle and cattle feeders to buy fuel to cook and heat their home.
“How can something like this happen and it is affecting us?” she said.
“How is someone going to be able to feed their grandchildren?”
ROBBERS IN THE GAME
Kenya is not one of the worst affected countries in the food crisis, but the problem is spreading across East Africa with increasing severity.
In the country’s Nyanza region, where many pastoralists live, a severe drought is causing crops to fail and prices are rising fast for food.
In the town of Dadaab, where many refugees are sheltering from the drought, many shopkeepers have seen their shops go bankrupt