Food Security Authority could harmonise sector policies
As Kenya strives to meet the Malabo Declaration commitment on ending hunger and halving poverty by 2025, the Food Security Authority (FSA), as espoused in the Food Security Act 2014, remains the only effective strategy for the country to harmonise food policies and in turn achieve the goals.
Indeed, the interconnectedness of determinants of food security call for a collaborative approach to food insecurity menace.
The FSA is the best point to start from. The Act was put in place to give effect to the economic and social rights in Article 43(c) and (d) of the Constitution that envisage a situation where all people at all times are free from hunger and have adequate food of acceptable quality and access to adequate clean and safe water.
However, going by the recent declaration of drought as a national disaster by President Uhuru Kenyatta, reports of floods causing mayhem in Turkana and persisting food insecurity challenge, it is clear existing institutions and policies within the food systems have failed to deliver food security.
Studies have shown indifference among actors, institutions and policies implemented in piecemeal are the cause of the failure.
Food systems form the foundation of development and deserve attention. To achieve food security status, therefore, implementation of different policies must get to optimum level of synergy.
The significance of an FSA as an apex entity in food policy issues must be viewed from its intended objectives and purposes.
Chief among them is seeking to provide for the establishment of institutions that will advance cooperative governance and procedures for coordinating food security functions exercised by the state.
It will also provide for a cross-sectoral networking platform comprising relevant ministries and agencies to ensure all Kenyans have access to food at all times.
The government’s effort so far is commendable. A number of key institutions, strategies and policies have been put in place to ensure the country is food and nutrition secure.
The food security pillar in the Big Four agenda, for instance, has raised the national profile of food insecurity challenges and enhanced conversation on food and nutrition security.
However, as Albert Einstein indicated, it will be impossible to solve a problem using a similar standard with which they were created.
The food systems issues have evolved over time; this has made food security challenges difficult to solve within the existing models.
For example, it is generally agreed among players that a comprehensive analysis of climate change impact on the food systems is monumental.
This can be handled effectively by an FSA with a wide mandate of looking into challenges affecting food systems in toto!
Consequently, the establishment of County Food Security Committees must be considered.
At the ward level, it will be easy to devise local mechanisms to handle food system challenges through local public participation.
Innovative local strategies inbuilt within food policies would be more effective than those advanced by national and global experts.
Involving locals in food projects and initiatives design further strengthens proper governance mechanisms advocated for in law.
It is for this reason, therefore, FSA must have food diplomats in its ranks looking into different global deals and treaties that impact local food policies.
It is my hope the President will breathe life into the struggle towards attaining food security by calling for the formation of the Authority. — The writer is international food policy analyst