African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development

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Considerations for the shift in roles of national and county governance towards the realization of food security in Kenya

EN Wafula, O Odula


The international community’s view on the state’s role in a country’s development and by extension food security situation is currently very positive. As a means to improve governance, decentralization in its many forms is being advocated all over the world. In August of 2010, Kenya embraced a new system of governance which involved the devolution of the central government and public participation as its new and critical components. This implied a shift in the roles of national and county governance towards the achievement of food security. Since food security is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, it is affected by many factors including governance. Thus, the government among other actors, plays a critical role in the achievement of food security. The scope of this review was ‘Good Food Security Governance’ within the national context, specifically focusing on the two tiers of government; national and county. This study aimed to call to attention the areas under governance in need of special attention by outlining the history of Kenya’s political economy that has contributed to the current state of food insecurity. It also seeks to reinforce government’s role in food security and propose possible key roles the national and county governments could embrace towards the realization of food security. There is need to eradicate corruption, streamline land tenure systems through effective land reforms, strengthen institutions that were weakened during former government regimes and empower county governments. The role of governments at both county and national level in food security should be reinforced by viewing food security as a public good and on the basis of the right to food as stipulated in the constitution of Kenya. While the national government needs to focus on capacity building of county governments, spurring economic growth, aiding poor rural farmers and putting in place social safety nets, the county government’s role should be the identification and implementation of context-specific integrated approaches to improve food security of their peoples. In conclusion, if these considerations are to be properly addressed then governance for food security in Kenya can be improved.

Key words: Kenya, Governance, Decentralization, Roles, Food Security, Political Economy, County

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