Written by: Hope Chebet.
Edited by: Olubunmi Oni.
No one knows firsthand the importance of food and water to a country’s population better than a third world country’s citizens. As a Kenyan citizen, I have witnessed the travesty that the lack of these resources can cause.In the Northern Kenya, people are dying of starvation and dehydration. Crippling hunger stares these people right in the face, and they are completely helpless, as a result of the government failing them due to corrupt leadership.
How inhumane have we become, as a country, as a people, to steal billions for self-gain at the expense of people’s lives? How much colder can our hearts get? It is truly gut-wrenching to see multiple pictures and videos of starving adults, children drinking dirty brown water from God-knows-where as they have no access to clean water, pregnant women expecting to deliver in a few months but haven’t eaten for over two days; These people are fellow human beings, equally deserving of the right to food, water and healthcare, going days without anything in their belly. The drought crisis has taken its toll upon these people, and they can only watch in agony as their lives are sucked out of them – too weak and frail to stand up for themselves, their eyes sunken, their faces wasting away, the look in their eyes dark and haunting. “I am not sick,” one 60-year-old woman, Lemuu, who was interviewed said through an interpreter, “I am just hungry.” Soon after, the team of journalists investigating the hunger pangs of Turkana fed her. Her five children are also staring death in the eye, while her husband died years ago. Her daughter, Emily Erii, explains the predicament facing their mother: “We don’t have anything to give her. She has just been sleeping inside there for days. She is so hungry but we cannot give her anything… because we have nothing. We have not eaten for days.” There are many more like Lemuu who, unlike her, haven’t been fed and continue to suffer pangs of hunger due to the drought.
How sad it is to see that ballot boxes can easily reach such places, but food and water is still scarce. The Deputy President, Mr. William Ruto spoke these words at a press conference at his office: “There is no cause for alarm. Intervention is being rolled out. But the situation is not as bad as it was two years ago.” This is the same man who has been involved in several scandals involving billions of Kenyan shillings, the most recent one involving an aide to the Deputy President being roped in a KSh21 billion non-existent dam project. He is also planning to vie for Presidency in 2022. While such political greed is evident in Kenya, many African countries suffer from the same.
1.1 million Kenyans are suffering from starvation, in a country where food security has always been a part of the top agenda. Such irony. It was only after journalists on ground in the Turkana region shared these heartbreaking pictures that made Kenyans take to social media, behind the hashtag #Wecannotignore, that the government took responsibility and gave 2 billion Kenyan shillings to battle the crisis. After innocent people died, after they drank unhealthy water,after they were too frail to even stand! Of what use is a government if they can’t strategize in order to prevent such terrible happenings? Of what use is a government if they cannot implement risk mitigation methods? It’s truly sickening, what the world has come to.
All I can conclude with is, food and water are resources that we can easily overlook sometimes and not appreciate, until we open our eyes to the brutality of the situation involving people who do not have access to these same resources. As human beings, however, it is our duty to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, to help those who are less fortunate than we are, and to try our best to make the world a better place. You, the reader, who has the underrated luxury of having more than enough resources given freely unto you – basic needs, an education, a means to gain and give knowledge and so many more resources that these people don’t, have the power to fight for these unfortunate people and show them that they are not less deserving of the abundance this world has to offer.