How do we achieve the Human Right to Food as it is enshrined in Article 43 of the Kenyan Constitution where every man, woman, and child has the right to be free from hunger and have food of acceptable quality? Most people are not conscious that among their many other rights such as freedom of Expression and Right to Life, the right to food is also one of them. Not just food, but adequate and nutritious food.
At a workshop hosted by BAKE and Route to Food Alliance on Understanding Food Rights in Kenya, the Human Right to food was clearly highlighted by the panelist comprising of; Patrick Gathara, a respected blogger from the blogging community who has used blogging as a space to defend and champion the human rights and interests of Kenyans, Mutemi wa Kiama, Social Justice Advocate and voice behind Wanjiku Revolution™ on Twitter, Anzetse Were, a Development Economist and Layla Liebetrau, Project Lead of the Route to Food Initiative and member of the Route to Food Alliance. The session was moderated by Daisy Jerop.
The workshop was geared towards bloggers and the overall online community to be able to have adequate information and knowledge on issues that are less discussed such as food security. The online community is then able to articulate this issues well on their online platforms and thus inspire a change movement within the country.
The issue of accountability of resources by the government was a topic that came up numerous times during the discussions. The national government should be held accountable for everything that is spent right from the county level. Not just in how salaries are disbursed throughout the public service system but also how much of the allocated budgetary funds were spent in the governmental sectors. Agriculture, being a sector that is in all counties is an area where funds are allocated to specifically invest in agriculture in the counties through agricultural infrastructure development. The Kenyan national government spends 2% of its budget in agriculture whereas the recommended budget allocation for agriculture globally should be 4.5%. We should, therefore, ask ourselves whether the government is really serious about enabling every Kenya to have the Right to access adequate food.
Bloggers involved in human rights issues and governance are encouraged to highlight food security and other facts of Human Right to Food that the online community needs to know and therefore have a conversation starting point. We have seen this community champion numerous movements that enable growth and development to be properly articulated in states all across the globe. With many people being online and others joining this platform every day, this is an issue that should be discussed, policies and solutions reviewed and assessments done. We may argue that the National Assembly is responsible for policy making, but we as citizens should also hold the government accountable on both the financial and economic level.
Agriculturally related bloggers can play a part in the online community by writing and showcasing agricultural methods that can, especially, encourage the youth to take up farming. Food should not only be about how best it can be prepared but also how best one can invest in farming. Farming should not be considered an old generation or low-income activity. Farming should be viewed as a way to feed a nation which is a very luxurious activity in developed countries and should be well-articulated to the youth.
We need to endeavor to achieve food security by being diverse and getting back to our roots where we focus on healthier food such as millet, sorghum, sweet potato and arrow roots among others. These are areas food bloggers could widely explore. Statistics reveal 30% of Kenyans have food on their table that is not nutritious and does not promote a healthy well-being. Bloggers within this niche of writing could showcase how to prepare healthy and readily available meals and not only depend on the norms such as maize, wheat, and rice.
The workshop concluded that there needs to be a conversation on food security in the country because hunger and undernourishment is a chronic problem. It is not necessarily about climate change but our planning and where the government chooses to invest in. We should agree that the Human Right to Food is not the right to be fed but it is the right to feed oneself, in dignity. When a nation achieves this, only then will we be able to grow economically. This is because the right to food for every individual will reduce the need to ‘work to eat’ philosophy and a people will be more inclined towards thinking about developing the country.