Kenya’s struggle with drought bites hard as families struggle to cope

By Brenda Kiprono-The little known Kuikui village located in Barwessa, welcomes you to the harsh drought reality that residents of Baringo County have had to shoulder for some time now.

It is here that we meet the 75 year old Chelugu Talaa, looking visibly emaciated and frail, her face does not hide the fact that she rarely gets something to put in the stomach, and in any case, she has no slight idea of what her next meal will come from, anyway. Be as it may, this is the least of her worries.

Her key concern, so it would appear, is her livestock. She says since drought struck seven months ago, she has lost 20 of her cows. Her story mirrors that of other area residents.

Dead carcasses dot every part you walk to with several people, especially the elderly, children and women radiating a sense of hopelessness, to say the least.

Chesiriom dam that has been frequently serving the residents is now drying up.

The dam was constructed five years ago after then successful Kenyans for Kenya initiative.

The dam serves 40,000 people and over 200,000 herds of cattle. While the government has been distributing relief food to the locals and which has somehow handed them temporary reprieve, it has only proved to be a drop in the ocean.

Drought in Kenya has become cyclical and predictable. The effects of climate change become more pronounced each day and it is evident that they are at fever pitch. Even without the incidences of drought, the country is yet to attain food security.

Kenya’s rain-fed farming sector has also been affected by drought that is curtailing crop production, lifting food prices, and straining the economy.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics the food and non-alcoholic drinks index is rising faster than the overall inflation rate, up 21% in April from a year ago.

This has led to surging prices for staples like maize, sugar, and milk, with some of the largest stores reporting that they can’t even stock maize flour because of shortages.

The issue of food prices and the cost of living is the subject of heated discussion in Kenya.

The Kenyan government recently declared drought a national disaster.

Like other places struggling with food and water shortage, officials are calling for more help. And while many western countries, including Canada, are delivering funds, humanitarian groups say much more is needed to avoid a widespread hunger catastrophe.


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