How British Socio-Economic Policies of the Colonial Past Catalyzed Food Insecurity in Present-day Kenya

Abstract

Today 1 in 8 people in the world are hungry. In the sub-Saharan nation of Kenya, 50% of the country’s 44 million people do not have enough (if anything) to eat. Despite decades of research focused on identifying, measuring and addressing the causes of hunger, food security has actually worsened in Kenya over the last half century. The question then is why? It’s easy to observe factors influencing hunger--gender inequalities, low agricultural production due to drought and limited access to inputs, minimal infrastructure and poor access to markets, to name a few. But are these issues causing hunger, or are they just perpetuating (or exacerbating) conditions previously created? This paper argues the latter, proposing the socio-economic policies of the colonial past catalyzed food insecurity in the present. The argument is supported by observing Kenya’s pre-colonial history, examining socio-economic policies imposed by the British rulers during the colonized period, discussing the outcomes of those policies, and finally revealing how those outcomes catalyzed the state of food insecurity in Kenya today. The implications of these findings are useful in plotting the course of development programs in Kenya (or anywhere), questioning, is it wise to continue promoting agricultural intensification and commercialization as the necessary first steps toward development? Additional research is suggested to address that question, and also to consider policies which better favor subsistence farming and small scale innovations, since 70% of Kenyans survive on subsistence agriculture.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Christensen2014HowBS, title={How British Socio-Economic Policies of the Colonial Past Catalyzed Food Insecurity in Present-day Kenya}, author={Eva M. Christensen}, year={2014} }