Worsening drought threatens lives in eastern Kenya
In eastern Kenya, sunny skies can be a worrying sign of worse things to come.
In Garissa, living creatures barely survive. Either death awaits or exile for those who wish to survive.
According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), Kenya is facing an unprecedented severe drought due to the cumulative impacts of four consecutive failed rainy seasons.
“I am 78 years oldsaid Dubey Ibrahim Werar. I have never seen such severe drought in my entire life. For three years, there has not been a single drop of rain. All these houses have been abandoned by their inhabitants. Few of us stayed here. We have never seen a situation as serious as this before.“
Climate shocks have disrupted the lives of pastoralists. Livestock raising, one of their main subsistence sectors, has been badly affected. Staple food prices have soared, while daily wages continue to fall.
Vulnerability of communities
Falling purchasing power has led to increased malnutrition rates among the most vulnerable communities.
Mohammed Noor Afey, a community leader, observed the sad deterioration:The drought really affected our livestock and it took away our economic lifeline. What remains here are people without livestock. The only person who can afford to buy something is the one who has cattle nearby by selling their cattle. We don’t have markets where we can buy food and we don’t have farms. Our only income is our cattle and we have lost them.“
According to the National Drought Management Authority’s June food security report, the number of food insecure people in Kenya has risen from 3.5 million to 4.1 million.
The Kenya Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross have distributed relief food and animal feed in four drought-affected counties.
To help communities build their resilience to erratic weather conditions, households also received cash assistance.
Medicines and other emergency medical supplies distributed by UNICEF and its partners have reached 150,000 people in Marsabit, Turkana, Wajir, Mandera, Garissa and Tana River, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
Drought-related outbreaks of Kalaazar, Chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever have been reported in drought-affected arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), further exacerbating the vulnerability of communities and their coping mechanisms to drought emergency.