Kenya – Food crisis hits urban poor hard
The urban poor are the most affected by the current food crisis, according to the Kenya Food Security Update survey that says the highest number of people likely to starve are low-income earners in urban informal settlements.
The report says 4.1 million people living in Nairobi and Mombasa slums are threatened by starvation because of reduced earnings resulting from loss of employment after the post-election violence.
The situation is expected to worsen as the long rains are yet to reach most parts of the country, especially Rift Valley Province which is considered the country’s grain basket. Manual labourers, security guards, domestic and office support staff are the most affected.
“We are forced to skip meals to reduce the cost of living,” said Nairobi resident Janeth Akinyi. The 39-year-old mother of four, who sells paper bags at the new Muthurwa market, said her income was grossly inadequate.
“I get about Sh150 daily and this can only pay rent,” she said. A Nation survey found that some workers were skipping lunch because of the high cost of food.
Chips for lunch
“I can not afford food and drinks,” said Mr Jackson Olulu, a clerk at the Nairobi City Council, when asked how he planned to celebrate Easter. Most workers have resorted to having chips for lunch. A portion of chips costs between Sh30 and Sh50.
Mr Francis Mwikali, a 28-year-old painter, said the situation was grim. He said council askaris (security officers) worsened the situation by arresting women who sell food in public. “We used to buy githeri (maize and beans) at Sh10 or we could eat on credit, but not any more.”