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North rift counties deliberate on food security

Stakeholders on food and nutrition security in North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB), Tuesday, held a virtual meeting to discuss the state of food security in the region.

Speaking during the virtual UN Food Systems Dialogue, Governors in NOREB region said there was need to improve food availability across the region, where a section of the population was food insecure yet most parts of the bloc produce surplus.

Uasin Gishu Governor and NOREB Chairman, Jackson Mandago, opened the summit and announced that deliberations will be adopted into a roadmap for implementation by the bloc towards food security.

He said that the bloc will partner with non-governmental organisations to fight climate change, and was working on preserving wetlands and forests as part of environmental conservation efforts to mitigate effects of climate change.

“NOREB is developing a peace and security framework for the region to address security in the region, with food production affected by insecurity in sections of North Rift,” said Mandago.

Governor Josphat Nanok of Turkana said the dialogue’s focus on achieving sustainable, profitable and equitable food system was a critical subject to address skewed food security situation of the bloc.

Nanok added that a bottoms-up approach in strengthening resilience of local communities was key towards achieving sustainability.

He reiterated on the need for a shift from too much focus on subsistence food production to more commercial production, by strengthening value chains, the household and entire government structure in food production.

Governor Nanok proposed a review of existing food security partnerships to ensure projects implemented are all inclusive, and urged for additional funding to strengthen coordination mechanism between organisations and government.

The Governor insisted that better private sector involvement will fill resource gap by counties and enable commercialisation of value chains like livestock production in Turkana, with better knowledge transfer.

Additionally, he called for better land management and with building resilience depending on how governments plan to use land to diversify food production.

Governor Stephen Sang of Nandi urged stakeholder to work on ending food system inequality in the North Rift region, with a section of the population in the area suffering from food insecurity yet the region is considered a food basket and the Country’s granary.

Deputy Country Director at the World Food Programme (WFP), Emmanuel Bigenimana, assured of development partners’ commitment to support NOREB and Kenya in the journey towards strengthening food systems and nutrition.

Other Governors who addressed the forum were Alex Tolgos of Elgeyo Marakwet and Samburu’s Moses Lenolkulal. NOREB CEO, Dr. Dominic Biwott, moderated the discussions.

Some suggestions raised from the summit include strengthening market systems to ensure availability of food products across the region, more focus on nutrition security along with food security, developing warehouse infrastructure for better storage of food.

The virtual meeting was attended by more than 200 nutrition and food security experts from NOREB County Governments, NGOs and the private sector among other participants.

By Peter Gitonga

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