Food access, a fundamental issue in Kenya (Food security bill)

The bill has been formulated to legislate on various constitutional articles comprising 43(1C), 53(1C) and article 21. Article 43(1C) stipulates that every citizen of Kenya has the right to be free from hunger and be able to access quality food of acceptable quality and quantity. Article 53(1C) on its part was formulated to address the children. It states that every child has a right to basic nutrition, shelter and health care. The bill takes a human based approach by taking article 21 of the constitution into perspective. Food is therefore considered as an important aspect of rights and fundamental freedoms among the people in Kenya.

The bill defines food as everything that originates from biological sources and water, whether processed or not, which is designated as an eatable or beverage for human consumption, including food additive materials, food raw material and other materials used in the process of preparation, processing and or the making of an eatable. Food takes into account art 21 of the constitution. This definition is restricted to human eatables and may not be extended to animal eatables. Though some animals are classified as human eatables and hence may be referred to as food. The materials referred in this definition are those that contribute directly in the make up of the eatables and not those that accompany the eatables such as packaging materials. Lastly the inclusion of article 21 of the constitution, means that food is considered as a human right. Its lack is therefore is a denial of these rights.

The bill defines agricultural food commodities as any agricultural food commodity designated as essential for the food security of the country. It is not clear whether this could mean implements that aid food production, seeds, fertilizer etc. Commodities essential for food production within the country may comprise the entire stock of goods needed for food security. The commodities could extend from farming activities to value addition activities. The essential foodstuffs include common types of food used by Kenyans in the country. The cabinet secretary has been given the authority to designate more foodstuff to the common list of foods.

Food access also a fundamental issue in Kenya. The country has either to ensure that adequate food is produced for its population or specific measures are put in place to avoid situations where its citizens lack food. According to the bill, food access may be procured through purchase, production or programmes implemented by the state. In this section the bill needs also to recognize the role of non-state actors who in most cases are usually the on the ground and the first to respond to precarious situations at times long before government established appropriate responses. It remains very important for the government to ensure that appropriate mechanisms are put in place to ensure that people unable to access food at any time are assisted to do so. These include persons at risk, vulnerable persons, forgotten populations or those facing situations of humanitarian disaster.

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