Global Food Crisis

Kenya's Poor Hungry in the Midst of Plenty

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"Even today, this morning, I have not taken even tea. I don't know what I will eat for lunch or for supper."

Tomatoes that were once considered too soft and rotten to sell now remain on the shelf, sold at a loss. Hand-painted signs advertising cow stomach at 80 shillings ($1.25) a kilogram (2.2 pounds) are now irrelevant and ignored.

The crisis has become so severe that Kenya's camps for internally displaced people have had to enforce strict registration policies, because people who were not displaced are moving into the camps.

Some are looking to get a share of the compensation money promised by the government. Others are just desperate for free food.

Bracing for the Worst

No one quite knows how the violence will affect domestic food supply.

But Kenyans are bracing for even greater shortages—and higher prices—in the coming months. Displacement camps are full of farmers who were expelled from their land, much of which remains fallow as the planting season starts.

"I hope I am wrong, but the indicators for the potential huge problem are there," said Father Ed Phillips, a U.S. priest who provides food and medicine to HIV/AIDS victims in Mathare, another Nairobi slum.

"If this should happen, I do not know what I will do. I have over 12,000 patients under care, and if you factor in other family members, you are talking about, as a minimum, 36,000 people being impacted."

The crisis exists far beyond the slums. Some Kenyans say they are relying more heavily on public transportation rather than spending what little they have on fuel, which is far more costly than it once was.

"You see, food prices have gone up, but people aren't getting any more from their jobs," said a Nairobi insurance broker named Isaac.

"If the situation does not improve within three months, people will just be starving."

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