Charities highlight new Kenya food crisis

By Julia Collings
April 29, 2009

Three major development agencies based in the UK have highlighted a new food crisis in Kenya.

Oxfam, Care International and Concern Worldwide reported on Tuesday 28 April 2009 that rising food prices in the country had created a major food crisis for the urban poor.

Whereas in some more rural areas of Kenya there are food shortages, in the slums, people are starving because they cannot afford to buy food.

A joint study by the charities in Nairobi’s shantytown, Kibera – the largest slum in sub-Saharan Africa - showed that 4,000 children under the age of five were malnourished.

“The urban poor rely on the markets for 90 per cent of their food and other products,” said Bud Carnall, director of Care International. “This has made them the hardest hit by the recent commodity price increases.”

The news came a day after the Catholic Church urged the Kenyan government to enforce price controls on basic commodities.

Cardinal Njue issued a statement on behalf of the 25 bishops at the Kenya Episcopal Conference, urging that price controls should stay in place for at least 12 months.

Cardinal Njue also urged MPs to ensure that food supplies were distributed more efficiently, saying there was no justification for anyone going hungry.

Philippa Crosland-Taylor, Head of Oxfam GB in Kenya, said that nearly two thirds of Nairobi’s slum population now live in extreme poverty and that “some are now engaging in crime, commercial sex work, skipping meals and even removing their children from school”.

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