Unity of purpose, visionary leaders needed to lift Kenya out of poverty

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First Lady Rachel Ruto donates food to Soweto residents at Kahawa Primary on November 5, 2022. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

Kenya, like many countries, is suffering the effects of severe drought, nearly three years of Covid-19 pandemic, recession, debt crisis, high unemployment, a suppressed economy and war in Ukraine.

These have contributed to severe domestic shocks related to rising inflation rates and high cost of living. Millions of Kenyans are starving, their pets are dead or dying and no one wants to buy the ones that won’t survive the journey to market.

Even our wildlife is dying in alarming numbers. It is encouraging that our government has taken the initiative to address the consequences of the drought. It is very necessary. But we need long-term solutions.

In a previous article, I discussed the National Drought Management Authority and why it needs a lot of investment to ensure prevention and preparedness.

In the meantime, we need unity of purpose and foresight to bring together and pool all parts of Kenya and seize the opportunity presented by rainwater.

The rain forecast is not so encouraging, although rain is expected this week. The rains won’t be here for long. This is where we need expertise to urgently bring citizens together to collect rainwater.

If we made furrow dykes in our farms, it would prevent rainwater from flowing downhill from our farms.

Furrow damming creates a series of pools and dams in the furrow between rows of crops to help capture and absorb rainfall. It also breaks up and loosens the surface crust of the soil which would otherwise prevent infiltration and promote runoff and puddling, which would lead to evaporation.

These furrow dams can actually be dug by hand or with equipment for larger farms, although the majority of Kenyans practice subsistence farming on small plots and medium-sized farms where furrow dams can be installed. inexpensively using standard cultivation equipment.

This will ensure that rainwater is retained in the farms and lasts a little longer, giving crops the chance to grow and mature.

We must also be competent in collecting rainwater to avoid any waste.

Successive governments have identified numerous dams throughout Kenya and in areas where boreholes, wells and other water sources exist, but only a few have been uncovered.

A number of Vision 2030 flagship roadblocks started years ago but have yet to be completed as they are riddled with allegations of corruption and inertia.

We must prioritize water, half of Kenya is without clean, portable water and sanitation.

If we are to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 4, “to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”, by 2030, we must act now.

It is sad to see some political leaders in drought-stricken regions concentrating on government posts, while the voters who elected them starve and lose everything – their livelihoods. These politicians should join the government to deal with the consequences of the drought and feed their voters, because 2027 will come sooner or later and then they will need voters.

There is anger and disunity among Kenyans segmented along political prisms which are quite unhealthy.

The same communities are divided between the government and the opposition, with those who supported the coalition in government demanding that they alone be appointed to political and other positions in this government, with some saying that even food relief should be channeled through their political party.

I am sure the government does not share their view as it needs all Kenyans to move forward and achieve our national goals.

Every Kenyan, regardless of their position in the elections, must be welcomed and allowed to feel like they belong. It is our country. All of us.

No Kenyan should feel that the government and other Kenyans in it regard them as less Kenyan. We will not succeed if we are divided. We need national cohesion and unity of purpose and foresight to solve our current problems and achieve the SDGs by 2030.

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