Open access peer-reviewed chapter

# Food and Nutrition Security in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania): Status, Challenges and Prospects

By Michael N.I. Lokuruka

Submitted: May 28th 2019Reviewed: November 16th 2020Published: December 10th 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.95036

## Abstract

Achieving food and nutrition security remains a tall order for developing countries. The FAO, IFPRI, WFP, UNICEF and other international bodies continue to provide active support in order to achieve global food and nutrition security. However, low technological capability, inefficient production, insignificant economic growth, increasing populations and lately climate variability, affect food production, leading to either stagnation or modest gains in food and nutrition security in different regions of the World. For African countries, food and nutrition security continues to improve, albeit at a slow pace, although the recent breakout of COVID-19 is bound to lead to a decline in food production, in the short and mid-term. In the East African Community, political stability, ambitious economic planning, the quest for higher agricultural productivity, improving educational achievement, improving sanitation and health, are contributing to the improving food and nutrition security. To hasten the process, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania embraced Vision 2030, Vision 2040 and Vision 2025, respectively. These grand, socio-economic plans bore Vision 2050 in the East African Community and Vision 2063 for the African Union. This chapter examines food and nutrition security in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and provides country-specific recommendations for achieving it. These include investing in agriculture, decelerating population growth, using adaptive research to solve farmer-problems, strengthening farmer-organizations and the formation of cooperatives.

### Keywords

• East African community
• Kenya
• Uganda
• Tanzania
• economic and social development
• agriculture
• food and nutrition security
• status
• challenges
• prospects

## 1. Introduction

### 1.2 The East African community

The EAC existed as an important trading block up until its break up in 1977 (it was then made up of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika-i.e., Tanzania, but without Zanzibar, Pemba and the smaller Islands in the Indian Ocean); It was revived on 30th November 1999, but the instruments for its re-establishment came into effect in 2000. It has a larger country composition, comprising of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. On 14th June 2019, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) requested to join the trading bloc, but the request is yet to be discussed and determined. The region has a current population of over 150 million people, but is likely to surpass 240 million, if the DRC is formally admitted as a member. The EAC as currently constituted is made up of over 200 ethnic groups. The current 6 member states of the EAC appear in Figure 1.

#### 1.2.1 Geography of the region

This part of the continent is composed mainly of plateaus, most of the highest elevations on the African continent and the largest lakes in Africa. In Kenya and parts of Tanzania, the highest elevations in the highlands reach as high as 2000–3000 feet above the mean sea level. The twin Rift Valley Systems run across the Region. The Great or Eastern Rift Valley runs from the Red Sea down through Ethiopia and Kenya going downward towards Tanzania, where the faulting activity created Lake Turkana and Tanganyika. The Western Rift System curves around western Uganda and Tanzania and includes Lake Victoria, the largest tropical lake and the largest and second largest fresh water lake in Africa and the World by surface area, respectively. Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro stands on the edge of the Great Rift Valley at above 19,340 feet (5895 metres above sea level) in northeastern Tanzania. Rwanda and Burundi sit on the edge of the western side of the Western Rift System and are a conflagration of hills and valleys that mesh into the fertile tropical forests of the DRC in the west. South Sudan sits between the dry northern Kenya plains, the semi-arid eastern Uganda and western Ethiopia. South Sudan is made up of tropical forests, swamps and grassland. The Imatong Mountains contain South Sudan’s highest point, Mount Kinyeti at 10,456 feet above sea level.

#### 1.2.2 Regional weather and vegetation

The climate of the Region is generally tropical, but the high temperatures are tempered by the high elevations, the valleys and hills of Rwanda, Burundi and western Uganda. Precipitation depends on altitude, with western Kenya, South Sudan, most of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi receiving high amounts of rainfall. Northern Kenya and the Karamoja Region of Uganda, receive low amounts of rainfall ranging from 5 to 40 inches annually, though Karamoja receives slightly hjgher than 40 inches annually. These low rainfall areas have low food production potential and are associated with high poverty indices and therefore poor food and nutrition security. Nomadic pastoralism based on livestock keeping is the major mode of production and livelihood in these semi-arid areas. The region’s vegetation is composed of thick woodlands and grassland in the high and wetter elevations, to scanty, thorny shrub and vegetation to desert terrain in the arid and semi-arid plains, respectively. South Sudan is hot with seasonal rainfall as influenced by the annual shift of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone. Rainfall is heaviest in the southern highlands and reduces towards the north as it merges into the Republic of Sudan.

This chapter examines the economic, food and nutrition security situation in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. For each country, some recommendations that are likely to improve food and nutrition security in the long-term are provided.

## 2. Kenya

### 2.1 Economy, agriculture and social development

Although the agricultural sector continues to dominate Kenya’s economy, only 15–20% of Kenya’s total land area has sufficient fertility and rainfall to be farmed, but only 7–8% of the land can be classified as first-class agricultural land. A considerable number of Kenyans make their living off the land, but this trend has continued to decline from the 1980s for various reasons including: rural–urban migration, the low economic gains from the sector, population growth and conversion of agricultural land to residential land, and, sub-division for purposes of inheritance, etc.

Agriculture is the second largest contributor to Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) after the service sector and fundamentally drives the country’s economy, as about 75% of Kenyans earn all or part of their income from the sector. Agriculture generally accounts for 33% of the nation’s GDP, but its contribution to the country’s GDP has continued to fluctuate over the years as agricultural productivity has either stagnated or declined. This has been observed for major food crops such as wheat and rice. Furthermore, the 15–20% of Kenya’s land area that is regarded as suitable for farming is not also utilized efficiently.

Recurrent crises such as drought add to the agriculture-related challenges which largely contribute to the high malnutrition levels in the country. In 2005, agriculture, including forestry and fishing, accounted for 18% of wage employment and 50% of revenue from exports. For decades, the principal cash crops have remained tea, horticultural produce and coffee, with horticultural produce and tea being the major earners of foreign exchange. Horticultural produce and tea accounted for 23% and 22% of total export earnings, respectively. Coffee which has declined in importance due in part to depressed world prices and the decline of land under the crop, accounted for just 5% of export receipts in 2005. The production of major food staples such as maize is subject to sharp weather-related fluctuations. Declines in maize production often times leads to the need for Government to appeal for food aid, as was witnessed in 2004, and even lately in 2016–2017, when as many as 1.8–2.0 million people needed food relief. The expansion of credit to the agricultural sector by the financial sector has enabled farmers to better deal with the large risk of agriculture based on seasonal rainfall and dramatic fluctuations of the prices of agricultural commodities. The expansion of the area under irrigation is another major food policy issue for government as it works to find ways of increasing food production.

Tea, coffee, sisal, pyrethrum, maize, and wheat are grown in the fertile Kenya highlands, which is one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa. However, the production of sisal and pyrethrum is declining to levels where there may be no production of these two crops in the near future for various reasons which are outside the realm of the current discussion.

Local livestock breeds (Boran and Zebu) predominate in the semi-arid savanna to the north and east of the country, but exotic dairy breeds such as Friesian, Ayrshire, Sahiwal and crosses of the exotic and local Zebu cattle are kept in the highlands and mid altitudes, with the latter region sustaining the beef breeds. Cash and food crops including coconuts, pineapples, cashew nuts, sugarcane, and maize are grown in most parts of the country.

Kenya Vision 2030, the development blue print for the country, was initiated in 2013 by Emilio Mwai Kibaki, the 3rd President of Kenya. It has the economic, social and political pillars as its anchors; the economic pillar aims at improving the prosperity of all Kenyans through an economic development programme, covering all the regions of Kenya. It aimed to achieve a GDP growth rate of 10% per annum beginning in 2004, but the country has consistently fallen short of the target every subsequent financial year. However, to work towards achieving the target, Kenya is continuing with the tradition of macro-economic stability that has been established since 2002. The New Administration of President Uhuru M. Kenyatta has picked up some key economic deliverables in the Vision, in what in 2018, it has characterized as “The Big Four.”

These are:

1. Universal Healthcare,

2. Manufacturing,

3. Affordable Housing and

4. Food Security,

Through the economic pillar and strategy, Kenya aims to build a just and cohesive society with social equity available to all its citizens and enable them live in a clean and secure environment. The vision presents comprehensive social interventions for improving the quality of life of all Kenyans and Kenyan residents. The strategy contains special provisions to help persons living with various disabilities and previously marginalized communities, who may lack a good education, are unemployed and experience poor nutritional status due to high poverty prevalence among them. These policies (and those in the economic pillar) are equally anchored on an all-round strategy of adopting science, technology and innovation (STI) as the implementation tool. The STI concentrates in certain areas for it to contribute to the success of the initiative, including:

• Education and vocational/technical training

• Healthcare

• Water and sanitation

• The environment

• Housing and urbanization

• Gender, youth and vulnerable groups

• Equity and poverty elimination, and,

• National reconciliation, integration and cohesion

### 2.2 Food and nutrition security

The mortality rate of Kenyan children under age five has fallen steadily since 2000 [6], but remains of grave concern. On the positive side, the level of undernourishment among Kenya’s children fell in 2001–2003 and again in 2013–2015, but recurring droughts have led to a noticeable rise in levels. A decline was also recently observed after the 2016–2017 drought which affected Kenya and her neighbors, and which resulted in drops in agricultural production, increases in food prices [7, 8], and the consumption of inadequate food of low calorie and protein content. The impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be disastrous as agricultural production is expected to fall arising from the lengthy lockdowns and restrictions of movement of goods, people, the imposed curfews and the closing down of businesses.

Kenya’s child stunting and child wasting levels have also fallen considerably, with the stunting rate dropping from 35.2–26.0%, and the wasting rate falling from 7.0–4.0% in 2008–2009 and in 2014 [9, 10]. Levels vary substantially between regions and counties, with some having values significantly higher than the national averages. The highest child stunting percentages were found in Kitui County and West Pokot at 45.8% and 45.9%, respectively [10]. Although these Counties have high poverty levels (48 and 57%, respectively, based on national poverty indicators), stunting in Kenya is not perfectly associated with poverty levels. Rather, it seems to be influenced by a complex set of factors that include dietary diversity, feeding and caregiving practices, access to appropriate sanitation and disease prevalence [11, 12]. Wasting is highest in Kenya’s northernmost counties: with a value of 22.9% in Turkana, 16.3% in Marsabit, 14.8% in Mandera, 14.3% in West Pokot, and 14.2% in Wajir [10]. These Counties are arid or semi-arid, and are dominated by pastoralism as a form of livelihood and production and therefore have high poverty levels [13, 14]. Moreover, rates of contraception use and women’s education levels in these counties are low and fertility rates are high [10]. It has been observed that children’s nutritional status is associated with mothers’ education and literacy rates [15], both globally and in Kenya, specifically. A study from urban settlements of Nairobi found that maternal education strongly predicts children’s nutritional status, when controlling for other socio-economic and demographic factors [16]. Some recent data from Kenya shows that the stunting rate of children whose mothers had no formal education was 31%, while that of children whose mothers had secondary education or higher was 17% [10]. Children’s nutrition is also associated with mothers’ nutritional status and therefore income. A study from rural Kenya showed a positive correlation between maternal nutrition and children’s nutritional status in terms of anthropometric measures [17]. As Kenya attempts to further reduce child undernutrition, albeit with persistent challenges, any gains will be achieved if it addresses infant and young child feeding practices in the Counties. Breastfeeding practices have improved substantially in Kenya, with 61% of children under 6 months exclusively breastfed in 2014, compared with just 32% in 2008–2009 [10, 9]. Meanwhile, in 2014, just 22% of children between 6 and 23 months of age received a minimum acceptable diet [10]. Figure 2 gives global hunger indicators (GHI) for Kenya’s regions.

Although most food and nutrition analyses of Kenya have traditionally focused on rural areas, where rates of child undernutrition tend to be higher than in urban areas, Kenya’s population is increasingly urbanizing, and urban food insecurity and undernutrition, are emerging concerns [10, 18, 19]. Urban dwellers are highly vulnerable to food price spikes, which affect their access to affordable food, especially the unemployed, casual labourers who mainly live in the sprawling informal settlements of Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Mombasa and Eldoret, and increasingly in every major urban centre in the country. Moreover, urban populations live in crowded, poor accommodation, and often lack adequate water, sanitation and therefore live in unhygienic conditions are subject to illness and disease [18, 19]. Child mortality declined much more slowly in urban than in rural areas of Kenya between 1993 and 2008, perhaps because of the deplorable living conditions in urban settlements [20]. In 2014, Nairobi had the second highest child mortality rate among Kenya’s regions (Figure 2).

Agriculture is considered to have considerable potential to increase household food security and nutrition. Although evidence of the impact of agricultural technologies on relevant outcomes is limited, some studies have shown promising results in Kenya [21]. Dairying and pastoralism play important economic roles among Kenyan smallholder farmers, with significant implications for nutrition. Roughly a quarter of Kenyan households engage in small-scale dairy activities. Studies of pastoralism in four of Kenya’s northern, and arid counties–Mandera, Marsabit, Turkana, and Wajir (Figure 3) showed that livestock is the main source of livelihood for not less than 57% of households [13, 22]. For pastoralist households, the animals provide the milk consumed by families, and as livestock assets decrease, so does milk consumption affecting children’s nutritional status and well-being. Milk consumption at the household level was found to be positively associated with higher body mass index among Samburu youth [23]. Consumption of animal-source foods by Kenyan schoolchildren has also been shown to be positively associated with height and weight gains. A school-feeding programme that tested the effect of different types of snacks given to children found that meat and milk snacks contributed the most to children’s arm muscle growth. Figure 3 shows the current Counties of Kenya.

Kenya is engaged in cash transfer initiatives as a way to lift the poor out of food and nutrition insecurity. The unconditional cash transfer programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children increased households’ food expenditures and dietary diversity, and the consumption of food produced by households themselves. The unconditional cash transfer programme in rural Kenya also increased households’ food security and food expenditures, particularly when the transfers are made monthly rather than in a lump sum [24]. Kenya’s Hunger Safety Net Programme, an unconditional cash transfer programme, boosted beneficiaries’ food consumption relative to controls and increased dietary diversity for poorer households in the project [25, 26].

Nutrition education can also help improve diet quality for children and adults in Kenya. A pilot study in western Kenya showed that providing nutrition education to fathers and grandmothers on proper complementary feeding practices for children raised social support for mothers, and, resulted in the adoption of beneficial child feeding practices [27]. Despite the need to continue addressing malnutrition in the country, micronutrient deficiencies of Vitamin A, Folic acid, Iron, Zinc and Iodine are widespread, with the re-emerging rise in rickets. However, the iodization of salt and fortification of many processed foods, especially the staples with most of the above micronutrients will alleviate the problem. Emerging issues include child obesity, where female children appear more obese and overweight than their male counterparts.

### 2.3 Prospects

The operationalization of the Food and Nutrition Security Policy of 2011, the placement of access to quality and adequate food access for citizens in the new Kenya Constitution of 2010 [7] as a human right, and support programmes arising thereof, are providing a firm foundation for the country to effectively address the issues of food and nutrition insecurity in a planned and focused manner. This is backed by an increasing number of interventions from the National and the County Governments and International non-Governmental Organizations, with the most notable being the World Food Programe (WFP) and UNICEF, with the focus for the latter being women and children. The Food and Nutrition Policy of 2011 is themed on 3 areas:

1. Optimizing the health of Kenyans through good nutrition

2. Ensuring access and the availability of good quality and affordable food, all the time to consumers

3. Using cost-effective safety nets to protect the vulnerable populations in order to achieve long-term development

The policy broadly recommends providing specific crops for specific agro-climatic zones of the country. With the focus being on the child, one intervention and recommendation from the policy is providing food subsidy and food aid to vulnerable groups and children, in the latter case by strengthening and making school feeding programmes work. The WFP has for many years sustained the school feeding programmes in the semi-arid and arid parts of the country, despite the programme facing logistical as well as policy difficulties. There are other policy instruments that are currently either being finalized or implemented. Major areas of focus that can boost agricultural production and eventually reduce food and nutrition insecurity in Kenya include but are not limited to:

• Enhancing access to agricultural financing: While Kenya represents a vibrant and enabling market for agricultural produce, the enthusiasm by the banking sector to service commercial agriculture is lacking, as only about 4% of commercial bank lending is for agribusiness, despite most Kenyans being employed in agriculture or agriculture-related businesses.

• Increasing the use of fertilizer: Fertilizer use remains inadequate in Kenya as the Government’s fertilizer subsidy programme is inefficient, and often disproportionately benefits more medium/large scale famers than small-scale farmers. Small-scale farmers are the backbone of the country’s agriculture sector. Making the scheme work for small-scale farmers and ensuring that it is efficient, transparent, and targets them, has the potential of raising agricultural output and productivity.

• Establishing private sector-led commodity trading: Similar to the situation in most Africa countries, the Kenya government retains a big role in marketing agricultural outputs, especially maize, the staple cereal crop for a majority of the country’s population, thereby leaving little room for private sector participation. Further, the National Cereals and Produce Board buys maize at a premium above the price determined by market forces. These interventions edge out private sector players somewhat, resulting in reduced availability of public finance for other potentially more useful expenditures, e.g., extension services and farmer training.

• Investing in irrigation: While over 80% of Kenya’s land area is arid and semi-arid, 2% of the arable land is under irrigation compared to an average of 6% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 37% in Asia [28]. The low usage of irrigation means Kenya’s agriculture is fully rain-dependent and susceptible to shocks due to droughts. Investing in irrigation and water management for farmers, can reduce productivity shocks and raise the sector’s total productivity, potentially improving food and nutrition security in the country.

• Supporting stronger farmer organizations: Kenya has many geographically dispersed smallholders who are not integrated into key agriculture value chains. Dispersion increases production costs and reduces small-scale farmers’ competitiveness. It is envisaged that building stronger farmer-organizations fosters economic inclusion of smallholders and increase their market power, thereby raising their incomes and productivity. Further, while value addition to agricultural commodities remains low in the country, increasing the value addition of agricultural commodities can create more jobs and reduce poverty. A set of recommendations that mirrors the above discussion is provided below.

### 3.2 Food and nutrition security

Despite producing a variety of food crops and animal food products, malnutrition remains a problem and therefore pockets of under-nourishment and hunger co-exist. Micronutrient deficiencies are common and are exhibited as goiter, vitamin A deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia in the general population, though more common in the poor, children and women of child-bearing age. High malnutrition and under-nutrition rates are generally due to predisposing diseases, HIV/AIDS, inadequate food intake, ignorance, cultural taboos, poverty, etc. The Uganda Food and Nutrition Policy of 2003 emphasized the promotion of good nutritional status of Ugandans through multi-sectoral and coordinated interventions that focused on food security, improved nutrition and increased incomes [40]. The country conducts periodic national income and expenditure surveys, with the latest being the 2009/2010 Uganda National Household Survey. The survey estimated that the incidence of income poverty in Uganda fell by 6.6% points in the 2005/2006 financial year from 31.1 to 24.5% in 2010 [41]. The incidence of income poverty in rural and urban areas was estimated at 27.2 and 9.1, respectively [41].

### 3.3 Prospects

Due to the increasing population and deforestation of the country, more arable land is being brought under cultivation for more food production. However, the continuing influx of refugees from South Sudan due to the civil war in that country, political instability further north in the Republic of Sudan and a host of internal factors, are likely to impact negatively on the country’s food production capacity. Although indicators of food poverty, malnutrition and under-nutrition are yet to rise significantly, the increasing population and depressed economic growth are likely to negatively affect the food security and nutrition status in the country in the long-term. Rainfall in 2019 remained erratic in most of Uganda as influenced by Cyclone Idai that affected much of southern Africa, and whose effects spilled into parts of Central and Eastern Africa. The effects of this and other natural factors are largely unpredictable, but the outlook does not seem beyond redemption as Uganda can largely feed its people. Recent trade deals with Kenya and the opening of the Kenya-Uganda border with the aim of minimizing interruptions in trade and travel, is already increasing food trade between Uganda’s border Counties and Kenya’s Counties of Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Busia, Kakamega and Turkana. Uganda is the net gainer from these commercial transactions, and its economy is bound to benefit from the increased trade and the likely increased local agricultural output to meet the increasing demand for more food in Kenya. The analysis of the food and nutrition outlook in Uganda indicates that:

• Nutrition indicators are generally improving, but the rate of change is slow

• Under-nutrition which coexists with over-nutrition is increasing

• Food and nutrition security is being undermined by large family sizes,

• Changing gender roles are affecting food and nutrition security in families

• Poor health infrastructure is undermining nutrition outcomes

• Income and wealth disparities are increasing between regions, classes and genders

In conclusion, 89% of Uganda’s population is food secure. This population still has normal access to food from their own production and in the market. Food prices in the markets are affordable, and consumers can experience an acceptable food consumption score as most can afford at least three meals per day of a diversified diet. They also have adequate energy intake. Eleven percent of the total population in the country is chronically food insecure. These are scattered in the Karamoja, Teso and Acholi districts and in the slums in the major cities of Kampala and Entebbe. The food security prospects for Karamoja are expected to remain volatile and unpredictable. Food availability is not a limiting factor in most regions of Uganda except in Karamoja, East, Central and West Nile, where production and productivity, frequent dry spells and lack of extension services constrain food production. Although food is largely available, food access and utilization are major limiting factors in the three regions but minor limiting factors in other regions. This has been attributed to the low level of incomes, poor storage practices, lack of awareness of what constitutes good nutrition, cultural food preferences, poor sanitary and food preparation practices and wastage of food during harvest periods due to festivities.

### 3.4 Recommendations

The semi-aridity of Karamoja, parts of Teso and Acholi Regions, the inevitability of negative effects of climate variability on food production and the increasing food demand by the increasing country’s population means that, there is urgent need to put in place different strategies to secure food for all Ugandans. Some workable recommendations include:

• Establishing programmes and mechanisms for slowing down population growth

• Developing a comprehensive national system based on enabling enhanced and sustainable, efficient food production through the use of modern technologies throughout Uganda’s arable regions. The new technologies should be research and innovation-driven

• The formation of collaborative partnerships that diversify food sources, as well as implementing legislation and policies that are geared to improving nutrition, while reducing food waste

• Developing a national agriculture strategy that encourages the production of crops well suited to the various local environments and promotes a production strategy that builds on the country’s comparative advantages

• More efficient use of the available arable land for food production and semi-arid lands for better livestock farming systems.

• Reducing the rate of deforestation as it impacts negatively on food production, food security and therefore economic growth. Re-afforestation is recommended to replenish the declining forest cover

• Creating a well-planned international trade and investment strategy, that can help hedge against volatility and food shortages, while spurring economic growth. Creating trading and processing hubs should help the country gain access to food supplies whenever necessary, either internally or through imports

• Planning for efficient domestic markets, and transport systems that emphasize reduction of food waste and curbing shortages

• The formation of cooperatives which can make it easier for farmers and other entrepreneurs to obtain credit

• Creating strategic reserves of food and water to take care of year-to-year variations in rainfall and food output, as well as any man-made disruptions in food supply across the country and those due to the vagaries of nature

• Reducing the influence of gender inequality on food security for women and children, by empowering more women and women more

## 4. United REPUBLIC of Tanzania

### 4.1 The economy and social development

With a population of 55–56 million people (2016 estimates), Tanzania has had a good economic growth run over the last decade averaginga 6–7% annually [46]. Although the absolute poverty index for the country decreased, the number of those living in abject poverty has not reduced noticeably due to the high populat2ion growth rate. Depending on weather patterns, the country can be split into two main climatic zones-the drought prone bimodal rainfall zone, situated mainly in the north and west of the country and the Unimodal zone in the south and east of the country [46]. In the bimodal rainfall zones, vulnerability to food insecurity is caused by such factors as water shortages, high food prices and the effects of drought on households. Levels of food poverty and malnutrition are higher in these areas than in the unimodal rainfall areas.

Tanzania ranked 152 out of 187 countries in the 2011 UN Human Development Index and number 54 out of 79 on the 2012 Global Hunger Index. While Tanzania has been a low-income country (though it has from early 2020 ascended to low-mid-income status) for quite long, it has experienced relatively stable economic growth in recent years, accelerating from 3.5% in the 1990s to approximately 7% in the 2000s. Effective fiscal and monetary policies largely insulated the country from recent international shocks; the maintenance of such policies, as well as investment in infrastructure and high profit yielding businesses are needed for such growth to continue [47]. Despite its economic growth, poverty remains prevalent in the country, particularly in rural areas, similar to any developing country. Approximately 30 million people, or 75 percent of the population, live in rural areas, with the rural households making up 80% of the country’s poor [47]. Agriculture accounts for 45% of Tanzania’s GDP and provides livelihoods for up to 80% of the country’s population [48]. While Tanzania’s food self-sufficiency has ranged from 88 to 112% over the past 8 years, localized food deficits are rampant. The low agricultural productivity makes it difficult to achieve significant strides towards poverty reduction and food security. Tanzania’s agriculture is characterized by low adoption of new and functional technologies, limited infrastructure and high transportation costs, a lack of adequate market access, and high rates of taxation and non-tariff trade barriers. The Government has made recent commitments to agricultural reform and improvement, such as the “Agriculture First Program”, and considerable budgetary allocation to agriculture. Similarly, agribusiness development is being encouraged under such programmes as the “Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania”. Tanzania has some of the highest levels of malnutrition among African countries. Approximately 42% of children under five suffer from malnutrition and stunting [48]. Despite sustained and steady growth, over the past two decades, and the achievement of significant progress in economic, social and human development, the resultant progress has not benefited all sectors of society and inequality has widened.

The country currently produces enough food to feed its population, but the poorest and most marginalized families–including refugees have limited access to it. The agricultural sector is largely dominated by smallholder farmers but production is stagnant, while the population is expected to double by 2050. The effects of climate change are deepening the vulnerability of agriculture to disasters. Households in the bimodal rainfall zone feel steep food prices which on comparison can be as high as 60% higher than those felt by families in the unimodal zones of the country. Economic growth for the country has been on the upsurge for most of the 2000–2010 decade [49], though the improvement in food and nutrition security has not proportionately benefitted from the economic growth experienced in the decade. The Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics reports that real GDP growth was 7.0% in 2018, slightly higher than the 6.8% in 2017.

Zanzibar and Pemba Islands have a population of about 1.3 million people with an estimated annual growth rate of 2.8% (estimates for 2016). Of this number, an estimated 14% may fall into the severely food insecure IPC Phase 3-Crisis level or at worst into the Phase 4-Emergency situation and require immediate food assistance in the dry season which comes normally between July and September [50]. This may happen when below normal rains fall in the previous year. This number is normally expected to decrease slightly to about 12% of the population in the October to December period [50]. The most food insecure districts are Kaskazini A, Micheweni and Magharibi. Of main concern is the population in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) in Kaskazini A and Micheweni in the October to December period. This requires urgent action to protect livelihoods, reduce gaps in food requirement in order to reduce the potential for acute malnutrition in the group. The majority of the population (69%) mainly live in IPC Phase 2 (stressed) and is only able to afford minimally adequate food consumption, but are unable to afford essential non-food expenditures without engaging in irreversible coping strategies [50]. Households who would be most affected are those who depend on agriculture in both Unguja and Pemba. The main driver of food insecurity is reduced harvest caused by poor Vuli rainfall in October to December and a prolonged dry season that would be experienced in January to March or heavy rainfall experienced towards the end of Masika (resulting in flooding and water logging of soils). These weather shocks often lead to shocks in livelihoods and acute food insecurity, especially for poor households particularly in Micheweni. Shortage of Vuli rainfall significantly affects food availability in farming households. The Vuli season is the most important season for food security in Zanzibar as most of the annual crops are planted in the season. The outcome of poor performance of Vuli rains lowers production below normal production levels, leading to low production of cassava, sweet potatoes, fruits and vegetables. These crops are not only important for household food security, but are also the main source of income for households who depend on the sale of these food crops to meet other basic family needs.

Despite any significant reduction in crop production, food availability at national level is not an issue given the opportunity Zanzibar has of importing food commodities from Mainland Tanzania. The biggest problem is, however, the price of these commodities that usually goes up significantly. Food prices in Zanzibar are always on an increasing trend, resulting in reduced household purchasing power and consequently affecting access to adequate and nutritious food. Although in the Micheweni and Kaskazini A Districts there are numbers of people who may not afford enough food, their situation will normally improve as these areas will be in the Clove harvesting season from October to December. Usually during this season, opportunities for income generation rise as short term jobs abound along the clove picking value chain. However, to avert the situation, it is recommended that the Government and implementing partners support the affected communities by provide farming inputs during the subsequent planting season.

It is envisioned that through Vision 2025, Tanzania agriculture will be transformed from a low productivity industry to a modern and semi-industrialized one that is supported by integrated services that would be available equally in the urban and rural areas [51].

### 4.2 Agriculture, food and nutrition security

Agriculture generates 30% of the country’s export earnings [52]. Approximately 46% of Tanzania’s total land mass is suitable for agricultural production, and the country can be a net exporter of food, if appropriate and functional food production strategies are put in place. However, only part of this arable land is marginally suitable for food production due to such factors as infertile soils, soil erosion, land degradation, and droughts. Moreover, 25% of the land is under wildlife reserves and protected forests. The country also has over 23% of its land mass being suitable for irrigated agriculture, thus demonstrating the potential for higher food security, if the land was put to such use. The country has a self-sufficiency ratio of 123 for maize, implying surplus production in this staple crop. Livestock keeping is the most important agricultural activity in most parts of the country, including the marginally-endowed agricultural areas and engages about 36% of households. The share of the livestock sector to the GDP was more than 7% in 2015, while its contribution was more than 30% to the agriculture-related contribution of the GDP in the same period [53]. Generally, the self-sufficiency ratio for food for the country between 2012/2013 and 2015/2016 FY has been over 100%, but variations exist at regional, district and household levels. According to the Tanzania Household Nutrition Survey of 2015–2016,the rate of stunting in children under the age of 5 years was 35% (reflecting cumulative effects of acute malnutrition), with 5% of children being wasted (too thin for their age), while 4% are overweight and 14% being under-weight [54]. The mixed news is that the extent of stunting and underweight in children declined over the period 1999–2016, but wasting remained unchanged over the same period. Paradoxically for unexplained reasons, all the three nutritional/health indicators are highest in children in the major food production areas of the southern and southwestern highlands, an observation that requires addressing. They are lowest in children in the highest wealth quartile, but are highest in children in the lowest wealth quartile.

### 4.3 Prospects

Despite efforts between 2007 and 2016 that have reduced the country’s poverty rate from 34.4% to 26.8%, the absolute number of poor people has held at about 13 million (approximately 27–28% of the population) [55] partly due to the high population growth rate. Based on the Household Budget Survey of 2017/18, it seems likely that the downward trend in the poverty rate will continue despite it becoming gradual. Government efforts to expand access to social services like education, health, and water have been undermined by their declining quality. This implies that the slowing of factors that contribute most to improved GHI, and any gains in food and nutrition security in the short-term, will therefore be gradual. Real GDP growth is projected to remain in the range of 5–6% over the medium term. This outlook will depend on favorable weather conditions, the steady implementation of reforms to improve the business environment, good fiscal management, and the ability of the Government to address vulnerabilities in the financial sector. The maintenance of low inflation will be underpinned by favorable food supplies and stable global energy prices. The COVID-19 breakout may, however, complicate matters for the country’s economy and food security as expected of other Countries of the EAC Region, though the fact that the country did not go into lockdown may mean that it comes off better than its neighbors.

### 4.4 Recommendations

• As agricultural productivity remains low and poses a significant challenge to poverty reduction and food security, Government should endeavor to remove challenges related to low adoption of new technologies and improve infrastructure in order to reduce transportation costs and market access

• Government should effect medium and long term interventions to reduce the wasting trends of children in the southern and southwestern highlands, which are also the best agriculturally-endowed regions of the country

• It is critical for the country to arrest the observed overweight trends in children through school education and more physical activities, while simultaneously executing parental education

• The Ministry of Agriculture should embark on irrigated agriculture in marginal areas by the use of appropriate and research-driven investments and technologies

• The Food industry should explore the potential for value addition of crop and livestock sector production for export to the EAC and other regional food-deficient countries

• Government requires to manage population growth so that it is in tandem with food production and services provision

• The Government of Tanzania and Development Partners require to take care of any food short falls that may be experienced in Zanzibar and Pemba islands due to short rains in the Vuli season during which period families face food shortages and are therefore likely to experience IPC 2–3 classification of food and nutrition insecurity.

• Support the affected communities by provide farming inputs during the subsequent planting seasons

• Improve the under-execution of public development projects, and,

• Create policies that raise FDI inflows and improved private sector credit growth

• Ensure that any economic growth benefits all sectors of society and social inequality is reduced

## Acronyms

 EAC East African Community FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FDI Foreign Direct Investment FY financial year GDP gross domestic product GHI global hunger indicators GoK Government of Kenya GoU Government of Uganda IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute IPC Integrated Food Security Phase Classification SDGs sustainable development goals UN United Nations UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund WFP World Food Programme WASH water, sanitation and hygiene

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© 2020 The Author(s). Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Michael N.I. Lokuruka (December 10th 2020). Food and Nutrition Security in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania): Status, Challenges and Prospects, Food Security in Africa, Barakat Mahmoud, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.95036. Available from:

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