The face of drought in Wajir County, in Kenya’s north is ugly. The land is bare and expansive, multiple whirlwinds sweeping across every now and then, which local myths call ‘the devil’. It is emaciated animals feeding on what seems like invisible grass on the ground or camels browsing on thorny remains of what used to be green leafy bushes. Masses of evidently emaciated livestock hurdling to quench their thirst around water points, after hours-long treks in search of the same. Women will wait patiently in line to fill their jerry cans to take back home.
Dead livestock are a common sight in many parts of Wajir, in northern Kenya, which is in the grip of a severe drought that is expected to last until October 2017. Families have been sunk into increasing vulnerability. Men are struggling to provide for their families, their faces are sad and strained as they stare into the unknown future, while the eyes of women and children dart about in hope whenever ‘visitors’ drop by their villages.
In July, an assessment of the drought crisis in the country revealed that 3.4 million people are now severely food insecure and need urgent food assistance. Of these, 800,000 will likely be in a more serious food situation as time passes by.
The blame lies squarely on the prolonged absence of rain in the region. It is long since the residents experienced a downpour, hence no sensible farming activities go on. The merciless hand of drought has robbed the community of its livestock that serve as a sign of heritage and source of food.
Lack of the appropriate food has plunged the community members into a state of confusion, as thousands of children and adults suffer from malnutrition. This puts the victims at a higher risk to attack by other serious diseases since their bodies do not have enough energy to protect themselves. Unfortunately, Wajir is sharing the predicaments with her neighboring Mandera county, where over 800, 000 children are now staring at an unknown future due to malnutrition and other related ailments.
Africaqua have been setting up safe water projects in arid and semi-arid areas in an effort to counter the effects of severe drought ravaging the lives of community members in the areas. Kimana, Matuu and Narok projects are complete, with community members now accessing water easily at an affordable price.
This is believed to be the only solution to the problems facing different arid and semi-arid counties in Kenya. On top of providing people with a sustainable source safe drinking water, the projects will give people an opportunity to even do subsistence farming in order to have a “stable” supply of food.
Image and some sections of the story Courtesy of Oxfam