It is more than 7 months since the onset of the drought in different parts of the country, with perennial drought hit appearing in the news for the same old reason; starvation and death.
Images of animals and human beings stricken by starvation have been showing on our screens and printed on the first page of national newspapers almost daily. This has been very frustrating especially viewing images of emaciated children and women, facing imminent death.
More shocking details and images from North Horr have shown how serious the situation is getting. Camels, known for staying between 5 to 6 months without water have now been unable to withstand the conditions. The scorching sun has dried up the last drop of water in their bodies, leading to death of over 300 camels in the region.
With the seriousness of the situation, it is difficult to comprehend how human beings who can only stay for between 3 to 5 days without water are coping with the conditions. To make the matter worse, the Kenya Meteorology Department (KMD) recently warned that the situation might get even worse, as there will be very little rainfall in the rainy season that is usually between the months of March and May.
Meanwhile, even as we shift focus to the perennial drought hit areas, we should not forget that the situation is almost similar in other parts of the country. People are struggling to get food and water.
The weekend scuffle in Ndeiya Kiambu County where residents scrambled for relief food is an indication that the situation has gotten worse. Various groups had organized and delivered relief food to the residents but its distribution did not go as planned.
Residents hijacked the distribution process, grabbing what they could afford, just to boost their hope of seeing another day. When the conditions got uglier, the organizers had no option other than allowing residents to have their way. This is the situation in other parts of the country.
By declaring the countrywide drought a national disaster, President Kenyatta on behalf of the nation indicated that the situation is now out of control. If the international communities do not intervene, we should expect more heart wrenching images from different parts of the country.
The menace we are in today is as a result of the prolonged absence of rainfall. We are a country that fully depends on rainfall for livestock and crop farming. This is probably where we have gone wrong. A country with over 50 years of independence should be having alternatives when it comes to drought mitigation.
We have rivers and lakes that usually flood during heavy rainfall. We watch as the floods sweep across our major towns and later start complaining about drought and hunger. We seriously need sustainable agricultural development for food security in our country to avoid scenarios like the ones we are currently witnessing.
Resources should be pumped into irrigation schemes in different parts of the country. But it is necessary for us to do our homework well before setting up the schemes to avoid allocation of funds to worthless schemes.
With legitimate irrigation schemes and alternative water sources, we will be sure of beating drought and starvation hands down. Irrigation is and will be the only way to deliver us from the jaws of starvation.
We cannot afford to be crying out to international communities for relief food. It is an act that no one with sound mind can stand to justify. It is a big shame.
David Mwaura, Communications Officer-Africaqua Limited