At the stroke of midnight on 1st January, 2020 the world ushered in not only a new year but a new decade. As happens at this time of the year, people made their New Year resolutions, and the aura of hope and expectation saturated the atmosphere.
But no sooner had the dust of merry-making settled than the plague of the locust invasion rocked the country. The year seemed to have started off on the wrong footing.
It is estimated that one in five Africans is undernourished, and that 30% of children under five — approximately 59 million — have stunted growth. This constitutes a much higher proportion of malnourished people than the global average of 21.9%. While there has been little research so far into the links between malnutrition and Covid-19, health experts warn that people with weakened immune systems as a result of undernourishment are at greater risk of a range of serious illnesses, and are therefore more likely to be severely affected by the virus.
Moreover, the effects of the pandemic, as well as measures to contain it, have exposed the disparities in Africa’s delicate food systems, and are exacerbating societal inequalities. Since ensuring sufficient access to food is a factor both of sufficient production, as well as supply and access, a comprehensive approach is needed to address the root causes of malnutrition. This requires strengthening the synergies between agricultural, and social protection interventions, to improve the welfare of vulnerable communities during Covid-19 and beyond. …
Travel restrictions. Border closures. Stay-at-home directives.
The Covid-19 pandemic has grounded businesses and caused people to stay put. World-over, countries are still grappling to flatten the curve and reduce the number of fatalities. Unfortunately, neither cure, nor vaccine for Covid-19 have been discovered yet.
On the upside, this grounding has caused African governments to look inward for solutions. This is a significant move for a continent that, for decades, has looked to developed countries for scientific, humanitarian, diplomatic and financial interventions.
Until now, African governments have made minimal investments in research and development, due to competing priorities, such as national security, infrastructural development, or alleviating hunger and extreme poverty. In an unprecedented turn of events, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of having a strong research and development system. With borders crossed, and traditional donor countries focused with their own needs, African scientists are being relied on to develop tests, vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus. …
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc globally. Characterized by dwindling economies and loss of lives in the hundreds of thousands, the world is literally on its knees at the moment. Barely a month before the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic; Kenya was grappling to contain the locust invasion in the country. The gory aftermath greatly affected food security in the country, and the confirmation of coronavirus in Kenya made the bad situation worse. Credence to Murphy’s Law that “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”
In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, the Kenyan government classified agriculture as one of the essential services that will remain undisrupted, in spite of the stringent measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus. In reality, this was easier said than done.
On 27 March, 2020, the government announced a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew from 7pm to 5am. The food sector has subsequently been marred by a series of challenges — from closure of open air food markets, logistical nightmares in food transportation, post-harvest losses due to a drastic drop in consumer demand, and a lack of proper storage, drying and cooling facilities. …