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The ugly truth of nation hit by drought is here with us

Every day, we wake up to traumatising news of the high number of people facing starvation in Kenya. The news filling our TV screens and doing rounds on different social media platforms is heart-wrenching.

These are images that no one can afford to view twice. They are images of emaciated children, women, men and even animals. The drought has not spared anyone; with animal carcasses strewn everywhere. Our country is slowly turning into a nation of abnormal creatures; leading abnormal lives.

Those experiencing the real wrath of the drought are the pastoralists, with their time divided between finding pasture for their livestock and food for themselves. They watch helplessly as the cruel hand of death turns their once healthy livestock into carcasses.

From Turkana to Tana River, Baringo to Baragoi, Laikipia to Lodwar, Marsabit to Mandera, Ijara to Isiolo, the effects of drought and starvation are real. People and animals are losing the battle to starvation every day. Those lucky to see the sun rise are not sure about watching it set; they are staring at the ugly face of death.

With people spending days without something to drink or eat, this reduces their hope of seeing another day. Some of them, especially those in Turkana and Samburu, now depend on wild fruits.

The fruits are poisonous and hence cannot be cooked the same way we cook food at home. They require a lot of water to neutralise the poison. With the water scarcity nightmare they are experiencing, women are forced to trek miles and miles away in the search of water points.

They camp at water points, light fire and begin the process of preparing "meals" for their families. They spend days and only return home after having prepared "enough food" that can last them several days.

GET WORSE

Men and boys also move out to look for water and pasture for their livestock. People are spending months without interacting with each other. Drought has interfered with their social lives.

A Government agency recently announced that the number of Kenyans facing starvation has increased rapidly due to the prolonged drought being experienced in different parts of the country. The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said the number has risen from 1.3 million last year to 2.7 million this year.

These figures are worrying, bearing in mind that the situation is expected to get worse as time goes. Meteorologists have already warned that rainy season will delay; news that has now sent cold shivers down the spines of Kenyans.

Some of the counties where people are facing starvation are known to be perennially hit by drought. Every year, residents have to wait for relief food from the Government and well-wishers. Sometimes, delivery of relief food delays, arriving only after residents have starved to death and their livestock unable to withstand the severe conditions of starvation.

Kenya is a country full of resources and with their proper utilisation, we can manage to counter the drought before its conditions extend to adverse stages. We have both underground and surface resources enough to deal with the situation.

In 2013, Government announced that hydrologists had found large aquifers of water in Turkana and Lotikipi basins. The two aquifers were estimated to contain 250 billion cubic meters of safe water but not much has been done initiate abstraction and treatment of the water. Something needs to be done.