Arrest skyrocketing cost of living and food prices

The cost of living in Kenya is escalating to a crisis level for many households. And from forecasts by economic experts, things could get worse before they get better. The poorest households have faced two extraordinarily difficult years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused mass losses of jobs and livelihoods.

The pandemic has caused unparalleled setbacks in the fight against poverty, further worsened by rising inflation and the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This scenario is grave and deserves urgent attention before things get out of control. The uproar over high cost of living is getting louder by the day and these voices of distress should not be ignored.

The authorities have come out to try and explain the situation with much of the blemish directed toward the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Whilst this may hold some water, the crisis cannot be solely blamed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The country’s high exposure to imported inflation is a pointer to decades of systemic failures in planning and decision-making.

Our food production credentials are wanting and we don’t seem committed to making a meaningful investment in boosting productivity and storage of harvests as a long-term solution to the perennial food shortages. Sadly, food is a big driver in the prosperity of the economy and the citizens. Several assessments examining the impact of previous major food price crises globally have shown high cost of food to be an obstacle to poverty reduction efforts in the long run.

We must, therefore, get it right in our agriculture programmes or risk getting stuck in the same hole forever. For instance, the State must adopt efficient strategies such as boosting crop output and building strategic reserves of food, fuel and fertiliser to assist in bad times.

In the short term, the State should urgently consider increasing social protection mechanisms such as cash and food transfers to save the millions of suffering Kenyans. It should also create reserves of imports such as food, fuel and fertiliser to keep prices stable because the worst is yet to come.


You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.