CWS Hotline - Week of 30/10/2000

Older people in Kenya shake their heads with disbelief as they watch the ravage of the drought spreading in the country. "I pray that we will not see a repeat of the cassava drought," they say. The "cassava drought" is a drought that occurred between 1943 and 1945 and was so severe that people fed on the then only drought resistant crop, cassava.

Since 1997-98, rain patterns have been erratic. Thirty of the 54 districts are experiencing famine. According to the World Food Programme, there are already over three million people who are at high risk of starvation. The long rains expected from April to July failed in most parts of the country. The short rains expected from September to November do not appear promising either. The crops have failed in the agricultural areas and livestock have perished in the arid and semi-arid areas.

Men from both pastoral and agricultural communities have left their homes in search of jobs in urban areas. Urban areas in Kenya are over stretched and unable to cope with rising populations. Women and children who are left behind in rural areas fend for themselves in searching for food, water, and security.

"I married off one of my daughters so that I could get five cows dowry to replace my herd of 80 wiped off by famine," says Chebokisang Lomekusia of Pokot District. The 50 year-old widow lost some of her livestock to raiders and others to famine. Such stories are becoming common in many areas. For more on this see the story from ACT.

CWS is responding to the crisis in Kenya through $80,000 in assistance to partner, Community Resource Initiative (CRI), which is supplying food to 65,680 people in eastern Kenya.