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For Kilifi residents, 2021 is the year they would rather forget as famine wiped out cattle

By Marion Kithi | Jan 11th 2022 | 2 min read

Kahaso Wakatondo quenching her thirst at her home in Ndarako Village, Ganze, Kilifi County. Ganze is one of the areas most affected by famine. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

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

All her livestock were wiped out by the drought that ravaged the Coast region in 2021.

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

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

In another homestead, a few metres from her house, is 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 celebrated 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." 

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

Kenya Red Cross Society estimates that 145,000 people were affected by drought in Kilifi. In September, the organisation 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. The situation is expected to stabilise in June 2022, when they get the first harvest of the year.

“We have had one month only of short rains since the start of 2020,” 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 in the ocean," said Kadii Ngumbao.

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

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

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