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Villagers cry for help as drought escalates

NORTH EASTERN
By Abdimalik Hajir | April 5th 2021
Woman at a borehole in Balambala, Garissa. [Abdimalik Hajir, Standard]

Hunger-stricken families in Garissa are appealing for relief food and water as drought intensifies.

Local leaders say the situation is dire and needs immediate intervention with combined efforts from national and county as well as humanitarian aid agencies.

Already, pastoralists have lost a significant number of livestock as others remain weak from the vagaries of drought that continue to ravage parts of the county.

Last week, the government announced that 1.2 million people were at risk of starvation as a result of drought.

Liboi Ward representative Hussein Ahmed Bashir described the situation as catastrophic, saying it was likely to get worse in the coming days.

“Almost all water points have dried up; there is also not enough water in the few boreholes left. The distance between the grazing area and water points have increased unprecedentedly,” he told The Standard yesterday.

"People need water and food. We are asking the county and national government to provide water bowsers to residents affected by this drought," he added.

Bashir said most residents were pastoralists who solely depend on livestock that were now threatened by the prevailing drought.

In Korisa’s Masalani Ward, residents take turns to guard the only water source from herds of buffaloes that have equally been suffering from the dry spell.

“We have no option other than to protect what we have. As you can see we light bonfires around this well during the night to keep wild animals at bay. We urgently need assistance,” said Abdirashid Mohamed, a resident.

As usual, during dry spells, there have been heightened human-wildlife conflicts as they compete for the few resources.

Mohamed said majority of the livestock have ventured into the expansive Boni Forest that has been a source of livelihood for livestock during the dry spell while a few weak animals have been left at home with no water or pasture.

According to Kenya Livestock Marketing Council national chairman Dubat Ali Amey, the situation is already at an alarming stage and worsening by the day as water points have dried up and pasture depleted. The most affected counties, he said, are Marsabit, Mandera, Isiolo, Wajir, Garissa and Turkana.

“We are appealing to the national and all county governments and partners to increase resources in order to avert the looming humanitarian crises in Asal counties,” said Dubat.

The National Drought Management Authority said the short rains season’s performance was below average. The county received 51-75 per cent of the normal rains of 154.39 mm, and was further characterised by poor distribution in space and time. 

 

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