The constitution lies to us: securing accountability for the right to food in Kenya

In 2010 Kenya enacted a new constitution that brought into law a range of progressive economic and social rights including the legal entitlement of its citizens ‘to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality’ (Republic of Kenya 2010). Hunger is widespread in Kenya and, despite the constitutional commitment, study finds a persistent failure of accountability for hunger. Factors rooted in Kenya’s history and political economy have dampened citizen expectations of the state, thwarted popular mobilisation and generated weak state responses. This raises a question of responsibility. In this paper, explore the failure and efforts to overcome them, before considering how accountability for hunger can be made the norm. This paper is part of a four-country study that analyses these responses in terms of the degree to which they approximate accountability for hunger. The countries covered by the study are Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Mozambique. The central question addressed is: under what conditions do riots and ‘right to food’ campaigns make governments more accountable for hunger?