Kenya: High Price of Maize Flour Hurts Poor Families

Consolata Nyawanga and her family eat ugali every day.

Before she leaves home for Nairobi's central business district where she sells fried fish for a living, she normally has a cup of tea and a piece of ugali leftovers from the previous day.

She has a stall at the City Market where many other traders operate food kiosks. So for lunch, she will have ugali and whatever accompaniment she can afford.

And when she returns home in the evening after a hard day's work, she has ugali for dinner before retiring to bed.

"The only proper food I know is ugali. If I ate anything else I wouldn't be satisfied," says the 58-year-old mother of two.


That is why she is appalled that a 2kg packet of maize flour has shot up to over Sh100, and yet it is a staple food in most Kenyan households.

But it is not just the maize flour, she says, food in general has become so expensive that ordinary people like her are struggling to feed their families.

"To afford my ugali, I have had to stop buying some things. I rarely buy new clothes; I can't afford it," she says.

The last packet she bought cost her Sh120. Maize flour is 'the engine that drives our nation', therefore it is preposterous that it should cost more than Sh100, she laments.


To understand where Ms Nyawanga is coming from, currently a 2kg packet of maize flour costs as much as a 2kg packet of wheat, which retails at between Sh121 to Sh125.

She cannot understand how wheat flour would cost as much as maize flour yet chapati is considered special, a rich man's food.

She hopes the government will address the high cost of food as well as healthcare, which she believes is beyond the reach of majority of Kenyans, when the budget is read Thursday.

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