Lives at Stake as Drought Declared a National Disaster

/ 11 months ago
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On February 10, the Government of Kenya declared the current drought in Kenya a national disaster with President Uhuru Kenyatta calling on all relevant ministries to scale up drought mitigation efforts. The current drought affects 23 arid and semi-arid counties, affecting humans, livestock and wildlife in Kenya. The North-Eastern region is among the worst affected regions in the country. The late onset and poor performance of the short and long rains last year led to the extension of the dry season into 2017. The prolonged lack of rains has elicited desperation among the pastoralist and agro-pastoralists.

The loss to this community can be evidenced by the reduced market price of the animals (shoats, cows and camels) due to their emaciated condition as a result of the prolonged water and grazing shortages. Most water points have dried up forcing most communities to rely on either commercial water trucks or trek further distances of more than 20 km for water.

56 years old Halima Ali Nuriye, a mother and a pastoralist from Fafi sub-county, Garissa County, is the sole breadwinner of her family. She also lives with her two orphaned nieces. As a guardian and breadwinner of the family, she is facing multiple challenges as a result of the escalating drought.

“We are no-longer able to cope. We are forced to send most of our livestock to other areas in search of pasture. I am only keeping a few livestock for the sole purpose of getting milk for the young ones. Our relatives in the urban areas have sent some financial support although it’s not sufficient. We were also able to get support from an agency that gave us wheat flour; 50kg was to be shared by 5 families! To us this was a drop in the ocean as the demand for food is high,” Halima Ali Nuriye

The adverse weather conditions have also lead to a negative trend in the children’s school attendance. Halima’s children are unable to attend school because of the schools’ inability to sustain the school feeding programme as well as the scarcity of water.

So far, a number of initiatives have been put in motion in an effort to secure these communities including provision for destocking. However, more urgent help is required even as President Uhuru appealed to the local and international partners to support the Government efforts.

“I appeal to the well-wishers to intervene with food supplies or strengthen general food distribution. Provision of clean portable water shall save us. We are also in dire need of improved sanitation facilities like latrines,” said Halima.

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