Drought Stricken Families Cry for Help in Garissa

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GARISSA (Xinhua) — A local resident fetches water from a borehole for his cattle in Garissa, northeastern Kenya, Nov. 4, 2014. Hunger stricken families in Garissa are appealing for urgent relief food and water interventions from the Kenyan government and aid agencies as severe drought increases and the expected short rains delayed. (Photo credit: Xinhua photo – Fabian Mangera)

Article courtesy of Fabian Mangera and Stephen Ingati | November 9, 2014 | Coastweek | Shared as educational material

Hunger stricken families in Garissa County in northern Kenya are appealing for urgent relief food and water interventions from the government and aid agencies, as severe drought intensifies and the expected short rains delayed.

The families mainly from areas hit hard by starvation and thirst due to the prevailing prolonged drought, which rendered their livestock unproductive, made their appeal during a recent tour by County leaders led by the deputy governor Abdullahi Hussein who were on inspection tour of development projects funded by the County authority.

Water pans are drying up quickly due to the vagaries of the dry spell in most of parts of Garissa County.

Mohamed Hassan, 29, who lived in Skansa at Modogashe sub-county, told Xinhua that most people in the area are already counting big loses after losing their animals in the ravaging drought that is get worse after being exacerbated by the depressed short rains expected to start end of last month.

He said the drought situation in the region is of grave concern, as hundreds of herds are lost including at some level human life.

The drought had also led to high rate of mortality among the human and livestock in general.

GARISSA (Xinhua) — Local residents wait to fetch water from a lorry in Garissa, northeastern Kenya, Nov. 4, 2014. (Photo credit: Xinhua photo – Fabian Mangera)

According to Hassan, the drought has had negative impact on food situation in the region, since most of the pastoral communities who have their livelihood on livestock have been affected.

He said water in the few remaining boreholes, which are only source of water they use for both livestock and domestic in the village, is getting unfit for human consumption due to increased salinity and high rate of contamination from dirt that were blown into them by strong dry spell winds that is usually accompanied by strong dust.

“The remaining water in our water source is now extremely salty for a human consumption or use for other purposes. If people take the water they experience a lot of diarrhea and when used for cooking the food gets badly cooked and hard,” he said.

“If the next few days the anticipated short rains fails to materialize and adequate intervention are not made available by both the governments, then we are worried that human lives and that of their livestock will be lost due to water borne or other drought related diseases,” he said.

Marwa Maalim, an expectant mother at Labiley location, said the drought situation is worsening daily, making the water supplied to them by the use of a water tanker contracted by the county government inadequate since they had to share with animals which could move with other herd due to weakness.

The mother of three said water supplies using a tanker was not enough as they were left with no water for them and their children when the tanker develops mechanical problems due to the long hours of trucking on the bad roads.

“If the drought continues unabated and rains didn’t come in the next few days, human lives, particularly our children, will be in a great danger. I appeal to the County government and the international community to come into our aid,” Maalim said.

And Gababa village in Ijara sub-county, one of the most hit by famine, residents have also appealed to the county government to intervene with water tankers to supply them with.

The residents noted that currently their village despite being among the hardest-hit areas, was not included in the areas being provided with water by the government as an intervention measures.

“Our economic activities depend fully on livestock and because of the biting drought situation most families has fled with their livestock to far- flung areas in Lamu County for grazing and water, “ said Mohammed Jelle Salat.

According to Garissa Deputy Governor Abdullahi Hussein, there are no reports of human deaths.

He, however, admitted that the situation is alarming and demands for an urgent intervention from all stakeholders both at the national and the County government.

Hussein said the county government is taking temporary measures to reduce the effects of the drought, such as water tracking to the drought ravaged residents, noting that there are plans to restore long time solutions such as piping and digging boreholes.

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