Hunger is a major issue worldwide. This fact is even more prominent right now with a serious food crisis in East Africa. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “What effects one directly, effects all indirectly.”
While the students, who are in school because of Global Education Fund (GEF), are not starving like some Kenyan communities in the North, everyone is affected. Food prices are so high here in Nairobi that partner schools are over-spending their budgets in order to feed their students. At the end of last semester, the government even closed some schools early because of food security issues.
Recently GEF students honed their critical thinking skills when they discussed food security and its impact on the communities where they live. Facilitated by an expert in nutrition from Kenyatta University and supported by students from Africa Nazarene University (ANU) and GEF alumni, the food security workshop focused on the current famine in East Africa and what young Kenyan students think about food production and food security in Kenya.
At the beginning of the workshop, a group of GEF students presented a skit illuminating their understanding of hunger in Kenya: a rich family didn’t notice others going hungry and wasted their food, a poor family felt ashamed that they were forced to beg to feed their children, and a group of government officials horded donated food.
Following a conversation about the skit, students were divided into small groups and assigned a particular question to tackle:
- Do you think that Kenya is capable of feeding its people right now? Why? Why not?
- If you were able to change things in Kenya right now, what would you do to reduce the cost of food? What alternatives would you introduce?
- Why do farms fail? How would you change this if you could? What are the challenges facing farmers in Kenya?
- If there were funds available for farming, would you farm? If so, what would crops would you raise? How would you go about starting your venture?
- Generally, why don’t students want to become fulltime, career farmers?
Students presented their findings to the rest of the students, which led to a plenary session around common themes that emerged: the fear and social associations of fulltime, career farmers; the lack of understanding of markets; the diversification of food production; corruption within the food production industry and what everyone’s role is in this system.
Over lunch and at the end of the workshop, students continued their conversations about food security. Some discussed where the food from lunch came from, others talked about the potential in alternative food production and the market for these foods. In the discussion about food security within Kenya, students learned about their roles, as young Kenyans, in changing the attitude and systems surrounding food production and food security in order for everyone to be able to access nutritious, affordable food choices in their communities.
Bottom line: GEF students further developed their critical thinking skills in discussing ways to resolve a critical issue in their community – food security.