Editor's Note [Volume 21 No. 9 (2021)]

The United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) - What Next?

The United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) has come and gone. What did it achieve? I contributed to several pre-conference sessions. My message was always very clear, that we need to focus on people. We need to focus on the vulnerable. We need to focus on working towards world peace at all levels. As countries battle to contain the pandemic within their borders, we have failed to link this to mental health and conflicts. During a pandemic like one we have never seen before, few have made so much money by taking advantage of the working class and the hand-to-mouth strugglers in the society. As I went through the community recently after two years, I still witnessed a lot of suffering. What affected me most was not hunger and poverty due to loss of jobs, but parents being unable to afford school fees for their children. These are mostly children in boarding school. Yet, how can children stay in school without paying school fees, what will they eat at school? That is when people like me are called upon to step in. The UNFSS was predicated on the Sustainable Development Goals. GOAL ONE is the eradication of poverty. For a long time, we have talked about eradicating hunger. We do not seem to be succeeding as numbers of the hungry continue to soar, with extreme natural events displacing people, coupled with human conflicts, such as banditry, terror attacks, and survival escapades. Climate variability impacts are making it worse to sustain a viable food supply. One only has to watch global news to see floods, droughts, landslides, melting ice, and volcanic eruptions to realize that these are indeed strange times.

The pandemic has just made things worse by pushing a lot of people below the poverty line. To have an enjoyable livelihood we need more than food. Do we not? What does it matter if we have food yet we cannot access quality water, or affordable energy supply, or affordable healthcare, or we cannot afford school fees for our children? People need cash, they need disposable income. Income poverty has become rampant, and also a cause of conflict and misery. Ultimately, we need to achieve SDG ONE, as a prerequisite to attaining the rest of the goals. To succeed, resources need to be channeled fairly and intentionally. We need to address the perpetual problem of vulnerability, otherwise it is difficult to attain world peace.

In today’s issue, we have ten well reviewed papers. We also have a must-read Guest Editorial by a budding scientist who narrates his trials and tribulations during the course of his doctoral studies. We thank Dr Benard Oloo for displaying courage to share widely his experiences which I am sure resonate with many of our readers.

Ruth Oniang'o
Editor-in-Chief, AJFAND


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