Nearly one in nine people in the world are going hungry, with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating already worsening trends this year, according to a United Nations report published Monday.
Economic slowdowns and climate-related shocks are pushing more people into hunger, while nutritious foods remain too expensive for many, contributing not only to undernourishment, but to growing rates of obesity in adults and children.
“After decades of long decline, the number of people suffering from hunger has been slowly increasing since 2014,” said the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World annual report.
Not only did people need enough food, but nutritious food, the study said, citing costly “health and environmental consequences” of sub-par diets.
Nearly 690 million people, or 8.9 per cent of people around the globe, are hungry, the UN found.
That number rose by 10 million people in just one year to 2019, and by 60 million in the past five years, found the study, which said eradicating hunger by 2030 – a goal set five years ago – will be impossible if trends continue.
By 2030, over 890 million people could be affected by hunger, or 9.8 per cent of the world’s population, it estimated.
Five United Nations agencies co-authored the report: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Last year, the report estimated that over 820 million people were going hungry, but estimates were recalculated following revised data from China for prior years.
When measuring both moderate and severe food insecurity in 2019, the number balloons from 690 million to 2 billion people without “regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food”.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which has hit hard in nations with widespread poverty, could cause another 83 to 132 million people to become undernourished this year, the report said.
Global trends had already been worsening before coronavirus, it said.
About a quarter of Africa’s population could go hungry by 2030 from 19.1 per cent today, already twice the world average.
In Asia, the number of hungry people fell by 8 million people since 2015, although the continent remains home to more than half the world’s undernourished people.
Trends in Latin America and the Caribbean are worsening, with 9 million more hungry people last year than in 2015.
“A key reason why millions of people around the world suffer from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition is because they cannot afford the cost of healthy diets,” found the report.
In all regions, adult obesity is on the rise, with healthy diets of fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods unaffordable to some 3 billion people.
Over 57 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia cannot afford a healthy diet.
Low-income countries rely on starchy staples like cereals and tubers that can cost 60 percent less than healthy diets, but lack necessary proteins and key vitamins and minerals to reduce infections and ward off disease.
The report found 21.3 per cent of children under five, or 144 million, experienced stunted growth due to malnutrition, most of them in Africa or Asia.
Another 6.9 per cent were “wasted” with nutritional imbalances, while 5.6 per cent were overweight.
Of the overweight children, 45 per cent come from Asia, and 24 per cent from Africa, underscoring how malnutrition takes the form of both undernutrition and obesity.
Current patterns in food consumption are estimated to result in health costs of over $1.3 trillion per year by 2030.
But healthier diets could lower those costs by up to 97 per cent, the report estimated, citing a vegetarian diet with associated health costs of less than $100 million.
Costs are also associated with greenhouse gas emissions caused by today’s food production system which could also be reduced by alternative diets.
While acknowledging high prices for healthy food are due to a variety of factors from insufficient diversification and inadequate food storage to domestic subsidies that favor staples, the report called an “urgent rebalancing of agricultural policies and incentives.”
Lobbying intensifies as MCAs set to table Ngilu impeachment motion
The motion for Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu’s impeachment will be tabled Wednesday following the High Court’s decision against stopping the process.
Justice Weldon Korir’s ruling last week, okaying the motion by majority leader Peter Kilonzo, kicked off a series of meetings, with both sides lobbying for support to either pass or defeat the motion.
Ms Ngilu is facing a spirited effort for her removal from office that was engineered by MCAs in the Wiper party, whose leader is politician Kalonzo Musyoka.
In the 54-member county assembly, Wiper enjoys the majority of 30 elected and nominated MCAs but two members – Kasee Musya (Kisasi) and James Musyoka (Kiomo Kyethani) broke ranks with their party and announced they’ll oppose the motion.
With 28 members remaining, the mover must win the support of eight MCAs from other parties to gather the requisite two thirds majority of 36 votes to see the motion through.
Ms Ngilu’s party, Narc, has 12 members but enjoys the support of MCAs from smaller political parties and independent lawmakers.
Members of the governor’s camp say they have the backing of about 25 MCAs and are sure the motion will fail but Mr Kilonzo said his camp has more than 36 supporters.
Lobbying for numbers has intensified with a caucus of 10 women MCAs throwing their weight behind Governor Ngilu.
The ward reps, led by Anastasia Mwathi of Mutito/Kaliku ward, said the motion is ill-motivated and aimed at distracting Ms Ngilu from the goals in her manifesto.
Ms Mwathi noted that MCAs must be allowed to represent the interests of the people who elected them, not political parties.
“We can’t allow bullying by big parties against a leader who was popularly elected by more than 170,000 votes” she told the Nation on Monday.
She said their proponents will face a huge embarrassment as the impeachment bid will collapse for lack of numbers.
The ten female MCAs include six from Ms Ngilu’s party, three from small political parties and an independent.
The assembly has 18 women MCAs out of the 54 elected and nominated members.
US-based law scholar Makau Mutua waded into the controversy at the weekend, criticising the assembly for seeking to oust the governor.
In a tweet, Prof Mutua urged MCAs to put Kitui people before “politics of personal destruction”.
“Think before you commit irreversible errors. Respect women leadership,” the law don said.
Meanwhile, Speaker George Ndotto has summoned Ms Ngilu to appear before the assembly Wednesday with strict instructions to bring only two legal counsels.
In a letter dated July 9, Mr Ndotto said if the governor chooses to appear in person, only two lawyers will be allowed at the county assembly grounds.
The letter rekindles memories of last week’s scuffle that saw Governor Ngilu’s lawyers assaulted and thrown out of the assembly by orderlies.
Lawyers Martin Oloo, Morris Kimuli and Stanley Kiima had gone to respond to summons issued by the Speaker.
Kenyan sprinter Mark Otieno hopes to get slot in Kip Keino Classic
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – Kenya’s 100m national record holder Mark Otieno hopes he can get a slot to compete at September’s Kip Keino Classic to be staged in Nairobi, one of the stops for the innugural World Athletics Continental Tour.
Otieno has only competed once this year due to the stoppages occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and with a place in next year’s Tokyo Olympics topping his mind, he hopes to salvage his season with a race on home soil.
“I’m hoping I’ll be considered for the sprint events. There are international meets that could help, but it’s an uphill task getting an invite,” Otieno said during an interview with World Athletics.
In his sole 100m race this year, Odhiambo clocked 10.27 in Nairobi back in March, faster than he ever ran so early in the season. While he admits “if anything is certain right now, it’s that nothing is certain,” that time gives him great cause for optimism whenever he can get back on track.
Otieno has been training alone due to the lockdowns occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, but even so, this is a phenomenon that he was already used to as his coach Owen Anderson lives in Michigan, USA.
And yet the arrangement works, through a combination of WhatsApps, emails and training videos flying back and forth across the Atlantic since they began working together in 2018.
But for Odhiambo, like many athletes elsewhere, his new normal is still a far cry from normality.
First, there’s the financial pressures of the pandemic. The 27-year-old may be the fastest Kenyan in history over 100m, with a personal best of 10.14, but that hasn’t been enough to sustain a full-time living.
“I work an 8-to-5 and balance it off with training,” he says. “It’s a tough lifestyle but with no sponsors, I can’t solely rely on my track career to make ends meet.”
His day job is in human resources with Kenya’s national postal service but that was put was on pause for much of the lockdown, leaving him without an income until recent weeks when Odhiambo resumed work.
Still, he found what opportunity he could in a crisis. Before the lockdown he trained with his wife, Stephanie Muluka-Odhiambo, at Kasarani Stadium, but when that closed down and all gyms were declared off limits, the sprinting couple had to be inventive.
“A school near where we live gave us access to their grounds,” he says. “It’s a small grass field but we were so thrilled that we had somewhere to do some runs.”
Early attraction to sprints
Odhiambo is an avid follower of the sport and he’d look on with envy at the facilities some of his peers had at their disposal elsewhere.
“They all seemed better equipped to deal with the quarantine. But I finally made a choice, picked myself up, got some money, went to a local welder and created some tools: plyometric boxes and some hurdles to use for drills. By changing my attitude I’ve been able to get my eyes off what I lack and actually be grateful for what I’ve been able to accomplish with so little.”
In a sense, that’s been the story of Odhiambo’s career.
He grew up in Sega, a rural area in western Kenya, and attended high school in Nairobi, where he juggled athletics with football. He tried just about every event at school, even a decathlon. “One of the most painful times in my career,” he says.
It was clear his true potential was in sprinting, which was a hard choice for some Kenyans to get their heads around. Odhiambo, though, was undeterred.
“I’m always been told my choice of distance as a Kenyan won’t attract sponsors or shoe contracts. So far they’ve been right, but I’m not willing to sacrifice the satisfaction and joy that comes with doing the 100m and 200m. If I finish my career with no sponsors, nor shoe deals, I’ll still be extremely grateful to God for the opportunity I had to pursue my dreams.”
-‘Mind-blowing’ London experience-
In 2015 he clocked a hand-timed 10.1 to finish second in the Kenyan trials for the World Championships in Beijing and the following year he lowered his official best to 10.39 to finish second at the Kenyan Championships. His big breakthrough came in 2017, Odhiambo clocking the Kenyan record of 10.14 to win the national 100m title in Nairobi, which booked his spot at the 2017 World Championships.
“London was mind-blowing for me,” he says. “Participating on that stage certainly changed me. Local meets seemed very easy mentally after that.”
Being based where he is, getting access to high-level races to hone his fitness ahead of major championships is a challenge.
”Kenya is known for its long-distance prowess and so most local meets are tailored to that,” he says. “As a result I only race a maximum of three races in a season before international championships. Showing up under-raced makes it hard to go past the qualifying rounds.”
For Odhiambo and his wife, the desire to succeed in sprinting has to be juggled with the financial need to make ends meet.
“The lowest moment was when my wife had to quit athletics to work a decent 8-5 job in order to help us with our living costs,” he says. “She loves the track life and it was hard seeing her shelf it. The break stalled her track dreams but I’m working with her now to help her achieve what she wanted.”
The couple take a keen interest in the next generation and through their involvement with a local church they work with teenagers, mentoring them and sharing what wisdom they can.
-Lack of high profile competitive opportunities
One of the big lessons from Odhiambo’s career is do what you can with whatever you have. For him, that means often training twice a day, squeezing workouts around his job. Most of his training is done on a grass field these days and for longer work he’ll go to Karura Forest. “It’s a vast forest land with low chances of getting infected or infecting others,” he says.
NMS to build 24 new health facilities in informal settlements
Kenyans living in informal settlements are set to benefit from the construction of 24 new health facilities by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) across the County.
The facilities which will be put up in the next three months at a cost of Ksh 2 billion will be situated in Mathare, Kayole, Mukuru Kwa Rueben, Kibra, Githurai Soweto, Korogocho Viwandani, Majengo, Kawangware, Gitare Marigu, Mukuru Kwa Njenga.
In a press statement to newsrooms Monday, NMS Director-General Mohammed Badi said that the construction of the facilities is part of the targets his administration desires to achieve in the next 100 days.
“Our intention is to build 24 fully functional health facilities in the County’s informal settlements to further develop and build on the health agenda even during this COVID-19 situation,” said Major General Badi.
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The construction of the facilities will be a major boost, coming at a time when the Country is registering high numbers of those testing positive to COVID-19 with Nairobi County bearing the brunt as it has recorded the highest number of new cases.
According to NMS Health Services Director Dr Josephine Kibaru-Mbae, 19 of the 24 facilities will be constructed from scratch while the remaining five will be rehabilitated, even as plans are underway to elevate Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital to a Level Five health facility.
Mbae noted that this will be a major game-changer for those living in informal settlements who do not have any health facilities, making it hard for people to access health services.
“Ten out of the targeted number will be Level Two health facilities while the rest will be Level Three,” clarified Mbae who further said that this particular action is in line with NMS’s vision in terms of health care in informal settlements which is the provision of comprehensive and quality health services to city residents living in these areas just like other parts of the county.
The Health Director further said that Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) will be given the tender to supply drugs to the facilities, stating that the agency is currently supplying NMS level 2 and 3 facilities with drugs under the Universal Healthcare Agreement.
NMS in addition has drilled a total of 93 boreholes in the informal settlements within Nairobi County to provide the residents of the areas with free clean water.
Nairobi Regional Commissioner Wilson Njega said the provision of water to the communities will end the plight of the water crisis in the settlements where the residents were buying water from vendors and kiosks at Ksh20 to Ksh30 per 20 litres jerrican.
Njega said plans were underway to increase the boreholes so that all the residents in the settlements can enjoy adequate water supply.
“The residents in these settlements are also receiving free clean water from NMS water boozers, I urge you to maintain high standards of hygiene during this period by washing hands with soap and water and sanitising to avoid contracting the disease,” said Njega.
The RC was spoke in Kibra during the flagging-off of the Phase II National Hygiene Programme (NHP) dubbed Kazi Mtaani in Kibra Constituency where 4,430 youth from the area have benefited from the programme.
Njega said the programme which has been initiated by the government to cushion the youths living in the informal settlements from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, will see over 270,000 Kenyans countrywide and at least 53,733 from Nairobi engaged in community work.
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