World Water Day 2022: Drought in Horn of Africa
The Human Face of the Drought in Kenya
CBM supports children, women, and men in Kenya with food, water, and school meals.
For many people of Turkana in Kenya, life means you either survive or find a way not to die. It is worse when you are living with a disability like Kanamot.
Kanamot, a mother of six, was afflicted by polio and lives with a physical disability. She tells CBM's Humanitarian Aid team that she wishes for only two things: food and water for her children not to die.
The extreme drought has ravaged the Eastern African country and its neighbours in the Horn of Africa. Entire populations have been forced out of their homes in search for water for their families and livestock. People are in great danger of dying of hunger and thirst.
CBM's Humanitarian and Transitional Aid Coordinator in Kenya Dorcas Wangu says that for those who have stayed, water and food are not just scarce, people are going days or even weeks without food.
CBM, through partner AICHM (Africa Inland Church Health Ministries), supports children, women and men in Kenya with food, water relief and school meals.
Crop and livestock wiped away
The shortage of water has in turn led to shortage of pastures, which has killed livestock. Intercommunal conflicts have increased over the meagre available resources for humans and livestock. People continue to cultivate and plant their gardens in hope of a chance of rain.
For three years, the rain has not come.
Mothers walk long distances searching for water to ensure that their babies don't die of thirst. Some even choose to give away their babies rather than watch them die in their arms.
This is the case of Kanamot who gave away her child to someone who lives in the town because her child almost died of hunger and thirst.
"I would rather starve than my child. I am an adult. I can handle it."
Before the drought ravaged Turkana and made it so hard to plant anything, Kanamot used to crawl on her knees to her farm to till and plant watermelon, maize, and millet, ensuring that her family had some food to eat.
Right now, she cannot find water for her children or her garden. The nearest source is far away in the hills 50 kilometres away from her home, a journey she cannot manage. She relies on the mercy of other people. So, she spends her days mostly sitting in one place.
The drought has worsened the humanitarian situation in a region that is already suffering from catastrophes like the desert locust, COVID-19 pandemic, abnormally high food prices, and protracted conflict and insecurity.
Yet, this is not about to stop.
Below average rainfall is predicted until May 2022. The conflict between Ukraine and Russia and later sanctions are already putting pressure on global food security and an already stretched system. Ukraine and Russia are amongst the three largest global exporters of wheat, and Russia has been the world's top exporter of fertilizers. Many developing countries rely on these supplies.
2.8 million people are already severely food insecure in Kenya, including 800,000 children, according to UNICEF. Up to 20 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Eritrea will need water and food aid this year.
Roland Schlott, head of the CBM Humanitarian Aid Team, says the need is complex. Many already poor people with disabilities fall into extreme poverty.
Through a "Cash Programme", CBM and partner PACIDA (Pastoralist Community Initiative and Development Assistance) in the Marsabit region also supports households of persons with disabilities to pay for food and water.
"For them, it is important to get support for survival – and a perspective for a better quality of life."
For Kanamot, taking care of her children boils down to food and water. With these two necessities, she will be a happy woman.