Residents hit hard by acute shortage of water, insecurity

Residents of Matarba in Merti, Isiolo County line up to receive water from a county government tanker on March 19, 2019. [Olivia Murithi/Standard]
Halima Guyo cuts a forlorn figure as she waits patiently for the county truck that brings water to residents of Mataarba in Merti sub-county.

Ms Guyo is waiting in line with a 100-litre jerrycan that the county fills three times a week. She, however, says the water is not enough for her family of nine.

There are about 2,000 other locals also queuing with similar jerrycans.

“We use the water for cooking, drinking, washing clothes and bathing. Most of the time, we are forced to skip washing clothes and taking a bath,” says Guyo.

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Other centres that get the rationed water are Lakole, Saliti, Biliki, Badan-Raro, Malka-Gala, Yamicha, Alango and Dadacha Basa that has a population of nearly 25,000 people.

The water truck driver, Abdi Mohammed, who soon arrives, says Isiolo County gets water from Merti town, and distributes it to different villages.

The furthest village that the truck delivers water to is Yamicha, which is about 110 kilometres from Merti town. The road to Yamicha is in a deplorable state, making the journey tedious.

“Apart from distributing water to residents, we also take it to schools and health facilities,” said Mr Mohammed.

He added that the exercise began last September.

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Drying rivers

According to the County National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Coordinator Lordman Lekalkuli, main water sources such as River Ewasa Nyiro dried up last year.

“The only source of water available is boreholes,” says Mr Lekalkuli.

He adds that out of an estimated 200,000 residents, nearly 76 per cent urgently require relief food, water and pasture for their animals. And if the situation is not addressed, he says, people will start dying of starvation.

Lekalkuli says the most affected areas are Chrerab, Oldonyiro, Garba-Tula and Sericho.

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Villagers told The Standard that the “Food for work Programme” ended in October, last year. Under the programme, vulnerable individuals worked and got food from NDMA.

They say they last got food from the Government in February last year, while the county administration gave them food last in January, this year.

Abdullahi Shandey, the coordinator of a local Non-Governmental Organisation, Merti Integrated Development Programme, says the Government needs to do more to address the situation.

“We have not seen any intervention from Nairobi, while the county relief food is not enough and has not reached some households,” says Mr Shandey.

Conflict among pastoral communities has escalated as a result of the drought. “The fights revolve around water and pasture for their animals,” he says.

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