By Kayeli Ian
I'm standing in line at the Mama Mboga Grocery Kibanda, and I see someone who looks like they're in a bit of a rush. They're kind of hunched over and their voice is low, but it's not obvious that they're sick. I've never seen anyone with that look before, so I'm not sure what's wrong with them.
As the person in line gets closer to me, though, I realize that he has something on their t-shirt. It's hard to tell with all the other stuff covering it up, but there are initials written on it: "DROUGHT". That seems like an odd thing for someone to wear on their shirt; why would someone want to remind people about a ravaging thing such as drought?
As the political dust settles in the country, our eyes can finally have a clear view of the calamity that is facing thousands of people in northern Kenya. The drought situation in Northern Kenya. The drought situation in Northern Kenya is a cause for concern. It has affected the livelihoods of thousands of families across the region and threatens to worsen without urgent action.
The drought was caused by two factors. First, it occurred during the dry season when there were no rains in many parts of northern Kenya, leaving farmers without water for irrigation or livestock watering. Second, because this area is so far from any main rivers or lakes, it relies on surface water like rain catchment systems which are not enough to sustain agriculture during droughts like this one.
Close to 1 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition, with several facing imminent death. In the northern desert regions, nearly 950,000 children under the age of five and 134,000 pregnant and lactating women are acutely malnourished, according to official figures from June. ]
This is projected to rise further in the coming months as rains do not come soon enough for seasonal foods like maize, beans, and sorghum seeds to grow sufficiently in many areas where they are needed most urgently by families who depend on them for food security during lean seasons.
Pastoralists on the other hand are facing a prolonged drought that has led to widespread hunger and the deaths of livestock. "It is a very serious situation," said Diana Muhuma, an officer with the Kenya Veterinary Services. "We have seen an increase in animals dying due to malnutrition." Most of these animals were small-scale farmers who rely on their livestock for income, she added.
With much of the groundwater still not recharged by rains, there will likely be more starvation and death in this region ahead of the long rains and the next harvest. There are about 3 million people who depend on shallow wells for their water supply. In some areas, these wells are so deep that they can only be accessed by digging a hole in the ground with a stick or hoe; other times they're so shallow that you'll need special tools to dig through them. This means that if there's no rain, your water will run dry within a few days (or weeks).
The ongoing dry spell has resulted in severe hunger, illness, and death among livestock herders whose livelihoods are dependent on them; livestock owners are selling their animals at very low prices as they struggle with disease outbreaks caused by a lack of nutrition in their animals' diets (this means less fodder available).
While Kenya has not been declared as having a major famine like what is currently taking place in southern Somalia and northeastern Nigeria, drought conditions have led to widespread hunger and deaths among livestock.
Elected leaders from the area have urged the government to declare the issue a national disaster and call upon well-wishers to step in and help solve the situation. The leaders also urged the neighboring communities to accommodate their counterparts from the affected region when they come to seek aid.
To address the current drought situation and prevent further deterioration of food security in Northern Kenya, WFP has scaled up its interventions by distributing emergency kits containing seeds, fertilizer, and other inputs for planting trees or crops among vulnerable groups such as women who have been hit hardest by this climatic phenomenon due to their limited access to employment opportunities outside home or land title issues which make them unable at times even get loans from banks, etc.
The WFP is providing food aid to households in communities located along rivers where water remains relatively plentiful. However, according to Mohamed Fall, head of WFP's Dadaab operations in northeastern Kenya, there are still significant numbers of children dying as a result of malnutrition in areas where there is no access to food or clean water.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said that it was providing essential supplies like hygiene kits and medical supplies for children under five years old who have been displaced by drought and conflict but also warned that "there are still millions more people living with little or no access to basic services including clean water".
To end this cycle of food insecurity, the Kenyan government must take action quickly. The current situation is a humanitarian disaster that requires immediate relief efforts by NGOs and international donors to help communities recover from the drought and mitigate future food insecurity.
Local communities must be supported by providing clean water sources, nutritious foods such as cooking oil and maize flour, access to healthcare services, and hygiene kits that can be used to disinfect water sources before consumption. This will provide mothers who are breastfeeding their children with better access to nutritious food while also ensuring that they do not become ill with wit-diarrhea ea or other illnesses caused by contaminated drinking water without proper treatment, which could lead to death.