44 of 100 Kenyans eat fewer meals in Covid belt-tightening

Suffering; report said most food available but prices high and money scarce.

In Summary

• Despite movement cessations, markets generally remained easily accessible and food items readily available to the majority of Kenyans.

• Counties under lockdown were the most affected. 

Tomatoes on sale at Kangemi Market.
Tomatoes on sale at Kangemi Market.
Image: FILE

Forty-four of every 100 Kenyans reduce the number of meals per day and many eat smaller portions in Covid-19 belt tightening, a new survey shows.

About 33 in every 100 rely on borrowing food or donations from friends and relatives.

Twenty-one in every 100 restricted consumption by adults to allow children to eat, while 16 in 100 sometimes don't eat for an entire day.

The report, ‘Food Situation During the Covid-19 Pandemic’ was released on Monday.

It was produced by the National Information Platform for Food Security and Nutrition project team under the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis.

The latest report shows 51 in every 100 Kenyans relied on credit to buy food and incurred debts while trying to put food on the table. Forty-seven in 100 eat smaller portions to survive.

The aim of the report was to assess food security during the pandemic.

The analyses were based on data from the Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19 on Household Survey, which was collected in two waves.

The first  was between May 2 and May 11, 2020; the second was between May 30 and June 6, 2020.

The survey focused on food availability, market accessibility, changes in prices, and prevalence of food insecurity.

The surveys were conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, with a sample of 15,840 being interviewed in wave one and 14,616 in wave two.

Data was collected using computer-assisted telephone interviews, recorded on tablets and transmitted to a central database.

58 per cent of Kenyans consumed inadequate quantities and compromised on diet quality more than they would normally.
KNBS director general MacDonald Obudho

“The Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya was preceded by the invasion of desert locusts in late 2019 and excessive rainfall in most parts of the country. These factors added pressure to the already existing food insecurity,” the report read.

Respondents were asked whether they had experienced severe water shortage, floods or mudslides, desert locusts or livestock diseases two weeks prior to the interviews.

Eighteen per cent cited severe water shortage; seven, five and three per cent  experienced floods/mudslides, livestock diseases and desert locusts, respectively.

“Though food remained generally available in most areas, the analysis of food insecurity revealed 58 per cent of Kenyans were consuming inadequate quantities and compromising on diet quality more than they would normally consume,” KNBS director general MacDonald Obudho said.

The report said despite there being movement cessations, markets generally were easily accessible and food items readily available to most people.

Sharp increases in food prices were reported by most households.

According to the report, more than 90 per cent of the respondents in all counties, except Busia and Kirinyaga, indicated availability of selected food items.

Milk was the most available food product in the localities and prices remained fairly stable in most regions.

The average price of onions went up by 34 per cent and the price of maize flour rose by 18 per cent during the survey period.

“The highest number of respondents indicated the average prices of tomatoes and onions had increased by over 50 per cent more than half the price between February and May 2020," the report read.”

Counties under lockdown were the most affected. Data showed the average price of tomatoes and onions increased in Mombasa and Kwale counties by 55 per cent each. The highest average vegetable price was recorded in Kilifi at38 per cent.

The average price of maize flour increased in Nandi, Bungoma and Elgeyo Marakwet by 33, 32 and 30 per cent, respectively, during the survey period.

Among the counties under lockdown, the average increase in maize flour price was highest in Kwale and Kilifi at 19 and 15 per cent, respectively. Overall, the average price of vegetable rose by 25 per cent

“This phenomenon could be attributed to good rains experienced in most parts of the country prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, which improved the crop yield and pasture,” the report read.

“The high prevalence of food insecurity in numbers of counties requires enhanced efforts to cushion the population from hunger and nutrition effects,” it said.

The project was funded by the European Union, The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office  and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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