“Sometimes, I am afraid to come to my house and find the children awake since I do not know which lies I would tell them on why there is no food” – Millicent Akoth, a mother of five.
These are some of the struggles Kenyans have to go through in the quest to make ends meet. The increased prices of basic commodities; vegetables, maize flour, milk, sugar among others have pushed Kenyans to the wall with shrinking income to cater for their needs.
Despite the introduction of tax waivers on maize grain and flour that were included in the budget our hopes of having an affordable lifestyle keep dwindling and eventually we will have to derive alternative means like kitchen gardens to afford the cost of living. For those of us residing in Nairobi, I included, we can attest to the high prices of basic commodities such as a packet of milk whose cost has risen from Kshs42 in February 2017 to Kshs50-55 March/April 2017 while the price of maize flour has gone up from Kshs125 to Kshs150 over the same period. This price hike has forced Kenyans to change their food preference. More people have moved to rice as a substitute for ugali and eggs as a substitute for sukuma wiki
The hashtag #iCantEatKE trended in 2016 October where Kenyans from different parts of the country met to dialogue on the high cost of living. Things have gotten worse since then as many families are struggling to put food on the table while maintaining a lifestyle they are accustomed to.
Schools have closed for the Easter holiday, children are home and parents will have to work harder to fend for their children and keep up with the cost of living. To some, the proposed budget doesn’t address the rising cost of living, if anything, it amplifies the budget deficit of 1.7 trillion which would be met through borrowing. The loans the government incurs will affect the citizens as they will be paying for them through high prices of food commodities and high fuel prices
The move by the government announcing that it will release one million bags of maize from its strategic reserve that would be sold to millers at the price ksh3000 per bag comes in handy. This is with the expectation that the price of two kilogrammes of maize flour would reduce from Kshs150 to Kshs115. The move comes only after a public outcry over the high prices of maize flour.
The increase in food prices has been attributed partly to the prevailing drought conditions that have hit most part of the countries reducing production, the rising fuel prices and the upcoming elections. This has forced the country to rely on imports which are expensive and thus the cost is distributed to the citizens.
The increase in prices of food commodities has further pushed individuals to choose between bus fare and their needs. Some have to walk for several kilometres to find casual labour while others have to forego some food stuffs like fruits and vegetables so as to squeeze in their tight budgets to put a meal on the table. As we work to make ends meet and fend for our families, financial adjustment can do you some good by cutting down unnecessary or impulse buying.