Petition to the President on the urgent need to save Kenyans from hunger

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Members of Amnesty International Kenya from different parts of the country write to you about the relentless drought currently ravaging the country. According to the National Drought Early Warning Bulletin Report, over 4.2million Kenyans face daily starvation due to the dire famine.(Standard Newspaper)The situation is compounded by the heightened inflation, making purchasing basic food a mirage for most Kenyans. Thus, we have regressed from addressing the standards of the right food that should be nutritionally accessible and affordable to food for basic survival.

As of 2021, the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics reported that 53.5% of Kenyans sometimes or often went without food in 2021, compared with 34% in 2019.With the continued drought, this number has gone higher in our rural and urban areas. Your Excellency, in 29 counties facing starvation, access to essential services like education has slowed down, and some are near closure. Most parents, teachers and children have shifted all their efforts to the search for food and water. Pastoralists face an increased risk of conflict in the search for pasture food and water. Mr President, acceptable quality food is a fundamental right necessary for all other rights, including the right to life which you have lately and in line with the rule of law considered sacrosanct. Your Excellency, with most Kenyans facing malnutrition, hunger and death from starvation is not business and usual. This is a national emergency that needs immediate action, driven by vibrant efforts by all government officials in solidarity from all Kenyans. Failure to redress the persistent and growing drought crisis will breed increased suffering and human rights violations of Kenyan son all fronts, including economically, socially, culturally and politically. This is a pandemic of a higher magnitude than the COVID-19 one that has now turned endemic. In this regard, we write to demand that you lead the government to immediately:

1.Commission an audit of all households currently faced with hunger and death due to starvation from the raving drought and famine.

2.Based on the audit, urgently roll out emergency food and water relief supply to all affected households in the rural areas. In the urban areas, establish cash transfers to reach starving families and enable them to purchase food or grant food vouchers due to power imbalances at the household level.

3.Update Kenyans daily on the response towards addressing hunger in Kenya. In the medium term and to inform the necessary reforms to our food and economic models, we call on the government to:

4.Improvesmall-scale farmers’ access to all agricultural inputs, including seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, and preservation products.

5.Set up storage facilities for plant and animal products that ensure the country has adequate food supplies and cushions farmers from losses of crops and livestock due to lack of water.

6.Audit the current food security policy and accelerate climate-smart and small-scale agriculture investment. Also, urgently urge parliament to inquire into the proposed introduction of genetically modified seeds into our farms and impact and the effect they have on seed sovereignty and supporting the indigenous agricultural system.

7.Review the existing food distribution n systems, including food wastage, limited storage facilities and poor market access infrastructure. In the long-term, we call on the government to intentionally develop policies to mitigate the effects of climate change in particular:

8.Invest in climate-smart management practices for different crop systems and livestock rearing that can help farmers to adapt to specific climate change risks and/or mitigate these risks.

9.Develop simple and robust scientific tools to guide the decision-making of farmers on a seasonal and long-term basis is essential for planning strategies to address climate change.