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Kenyans protest against High Food and Oil Prices

Kenyans protest against High Food and Oil Prices

Kenyans protested against high food and oil prices last week, demanding policies to address the rapidly increasing cost of living.  “I am here to demonstrate because things have gone high, things like maize flour, sugar and kerosene,” said one protester.

The price of maize flour, a staple food for Kenyans, has gone up 27% in the past 3 months.  The price of kerosene, the main fuel for poor households, went up by 8% in the capital of Nairobi. The price of diesel has gone up by 14%, and has lead the public bus service to increase their fares by 30%.

In general, inflation is up for the fifth consecutive month to 9.2%, with food prices accounting for 60% of that increase. Some of the high inflation and food prices is caused by the continuing severe drought in northern Kenya and east Africa, which the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies says “has the potential to be as devastating as that of 2009 if appropriate action is not taken immediately.”  Another aspect of the food and fuel quagmire are high international crude oil prices, which drive up fuel prices making it more difficult to transport food to the needy in the drought stricken regions.

In response to the high transport costs, the Kenyan Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta announced 20% and 30% tax cuts on diesel and kerosene; but Dina Awora Guy, the president of the Consumers’ Federation of Kenya, the group which organized the protests, said

“Those cuts do not make any difference – how does that trickle down to me…It doesn’t trickle down! So women, men, old people have decided – we are going to go the Egyptian way, the Tunisian way.”

The high cost of food is also preventing AIDS patients from consuming their anti-retroviral drugs, since they cannot ingest the drugs on an empty stomach, and leading some to form support groups to help each other with food.



Rishi Sidhu

Rishi Sidhu is a freelance writer and journalist based in Boston, Massachusetts. He found his love for international relations while teaching English on the Japan Exchange and Teaching program in the rural town of Agematsu in Nagano prefecture. After 2 years in Japan, Rishi traveled to India to study Hindi and pursue his journalism career. He became interested in food security when he first heard people in India complaining about rising food prices and loves the issue because of its impact on all aspects of human society; from health to politics, from environmentalism to global development.