By Faith Nyasuguta
Estimates show that the amount of food Kenyans waste in a single year could feed the majority of the hungry people currently relying on donations, for a year.
Annually, some 576,410 tonnes of food go to waste in Kenya according to the Food Waste Index Report 2021, released in March by UNEP.
The UNEP, which marked the second International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste this year is currently using the index to campaign against the culture of throwing out food uneaten.
“With some 811 million people affected by hunger in 2020 and three billion people unable to afford a healthy diet, collaborative global action to cut food loss and waste is essential,” it said in a statement.
Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority reveals that the nation’s Northeastern counties are the worst affected.
A string of estimates including the World Food Programme, shows that food wasted in the country in one year is enough to feed at least half of the starving Kenyans.
“In Africa, the value of lost food exceeds the annual value of grain imports,” Amir Mahmoud Abdulla, deputy head of WFP said.
The Food Waste Index Report 2021, released in March this year, showed that every Kenyan throws away an average of 99 kilogrammes of food per year.
For the developing countries, UNEP said half of the losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels.
It therefore added that one of the key measures to reducing food loss is the boosting of the sustainable cold chains.
The cold chains are critical to shrinking food loss and poverty and meet the hunger gap while also boosting economic development.
“We all have a role to reduce food waste, the burden of food waste and loss is heavy. But if we all get our shoulders beneath this burden, we can shift it,” Inger Andersen, the executive director of UNEP, said in a statement.
In September, UNEP helped to launch the ‘Food is Never Waste’ Coalition at the UN Food Systems Summit.
With commitments from 12 member states, the coalition is connecting the dots between food waste, hunger and the triple planetary crisis and aims to scale up global efforts.
“We need to accelerate progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goal target 12.3 by 2030 to halve global food waste and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses,” FAO director general QU Dongyu said in a statement.
He cautioned that only nine harvest seasons were remaining to do so.
UNEP said that as highlighted by the recently launched ‘Status of the Global Food Cold-Chain Briefing’, meeting this challenge will require robust, systems-level thinking to promote integrated approaches that promote connectivity in the chain from farm to fork.