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For some Kilifi residents 2021 is the year they wish to forget

Zawadi Kitsao a resident of Magarini looking at the carcasses of her cows on December 31, 2021. [Marion Ngala, Standard]

For Ms Zawadi Kitsa, 2021 is the year she would wish to forget.

All her livestock was wiped out by famine that ravaged the Coast region in 2021.

Outside the house of the 65-year-old, there were bones of cows that died due to lack of water and pasture.

"I lost 30 cows. I have nothing to celebrate for today. I can only thank God for the gift of life," said Ms Kitaso as she moved around the compound to show us her empty cattle shed.

In another homestead, a few metres from her house, we find Karisa Charo attending to his only cow that survived after 21 died due to drought.

"I wake up every morning thinking it was a bad dream. I lost everything, and all I can do is pray to God to give me the strength to survive and enable me to get other cows," said Charo, a father of eight.

As other Kenyans celebrate the New Year, Charo said he has no food.

"I hope a good Samaritan will walk in and give me even a packet of maize flour," he said.

Their stories are similar in most homes in Magarini Constituency in Kilifi County, who lost their livestock.

Kenya Red Cross Society estimates that 145,000 people were affected by drought in Kilifi. In September, the society said over 6,000 animals died due to starvation in Kilifi alone.

Although the region is currently experiencing the short rains season, families are struggling to get food. They said the situation would stabilize in June 2022, when they expect the first harvest.

“We have had one month only of short rains since the start of 2020. We pray for God's favour in the year 2022,” said Kitsao Kaingu, a community leader Tsangalaweni village in Ganze.

In Magarini, one of the remote parts of Kilifi County, we find a fragile mother and her daughters collecting firewood. One would think this could be the only family doing well in the area.

"I only have one cup of flour, which I will use to prepare food for my children and hope for the best," said Kadzo Jefwa, a mother of four.

Although the National and county governments have allocated funds to fight hunger, the situation is still dire.

"We have been receiving some food items, but to be honest, that has just been a drop of water in the ocean," said Ms Kadii Ngumbao.

She said last month she received only two kilograms of rice.

In September, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the drought a national disaster.