Kenya: Granary Without Food.

What makes a country great? Is it the authority of its government, size of its economy, power of its military, unity of its people, riches of its national culture or there’s something else? In the East African Region, Kenya is envied for its fast-growing economy characterized by vibrant towns and busy ports of call for road, rail, sea and air travelers. On the flip side, 35.5% of Kenyans live below a dollar each day thus falling into the category of poor humans. Kenya’s poverty index is worsening by day and food insecurity has become a threat to lives of many Kenyan people and livestock.

Poverty for lack of food, water, clothing, and healthcare is poverty of dignity. This is what Kenyans are facing in a regime that is busy constructing long kilometers of roads, a railway line to the wilderness and health facilities with no doctors and drugs. President Uhuru Kenyatta is on record claiming success in economic growth by GDP indicators showing a rise from a 4.4trillion shillings economy in 2013 to 11trilion in 2021 as per his reports in the state of the nation address (SON2021). While the president’s report maybe skewed to win him a legacy, there’s more to ask about this legacy when poverty index in Kenya increased from 38.9% to 53% simultaneously with the reported GDP growth rate. My submissions in this column do not seek to make readers forget the importance of infrastructural development in a country. I am however vouching for the protection of economic and social rights of all citizens by the government as a top priority over roads, railway lines, ports and building of great cities. It is the protection of these rights that will result into freedom from hunger and the development of an effective universal healthcare program that knows no discrimination between the haves and the have nots.

According to the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), people in Kenya are significantly deprived in the living standard dimension. In a nutshell; economic growth is an important means to development rather than an end in itself. Governments should thus focus not only on investment in transport, manufacturing and housing infrastructure but also invest in food production, healthcare and areas of direct impact to the dignity of its people. Mahatma Gandhi would summarize this column by his famous quote, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest member.”

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