Drought in Northern Kenya - six months on

Since the food crisis broke in Kenya nearly six months ago, Tearfund has helped more than 25,000 people in the country’s arid north.

We are working through partners to provide practical aid to the most vulnerable people in poverty affected by the drought.

Although there have been storms in recent weeks, rain has been a virtual stranger to the northern region of Marsabit since 2009. Consequently the water table has been low and existing boreholes were running perilously low.

The result is that this livestock-dependent area has seen animals die in huge numbers as grazing has disappeared in the sapping heat.

Our partner, Christian Community Services of Mount Kenya East (CCSMKE), has been organising trucks to ferry thousands of litres of potable water to communities.

Didadi village is one place where Tearfund’s water supplies are proving an essential lifeline.

Schools stay open

Previously, women would leave home at 3am to begin the marathon journey to fetch water, returning home eight hours later and then starting daily chores.

Resident Adi Abduba, 40, said, ‘Thank you Tearfund for all your support. May God bless you, without water we would have died a long time ago.’

Another positive impact of trucking water into the drought area is that schools are able to stay open.

John Burje Galgallo, headmaster of St Peter’s Primary School in Marsabit town, says illness among the 536 pupils has fallen since the water deliveries.

He explained that the water means the school can cook meals for the children at lunchtimes, boosting their nutrition when supplies are often limited at home.

The water also allows the children to wash their hands after using the toilet, reducing the risk of illness.

Great support

‘The water trucking has been a great support to us,’ added Mr Galgallo.

Pupil William Wako, 14, said: ‘Thank you for sending us water, you have saved our lives.

‘Since Tearfund started helping the school with water, the children never go hungry, because the school has water for cooking food.’

Anna Maria Denge, headteacher of nearby St Theresa’s Primary, described the drought as the worst she had ever seen. Before the truck deliveries, the lack of water was giving her sleepless nights:

‘We were unable to cook, clean and wash, so hygiene became an issue,’ she said. ‘Performance levels among the students also went down. Now we have got water, they have gone back up.’

Other Tearfund partners are also helping people in northern Kenya. Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) has been providing livestock fodder in the Turkana area, helping sustain the livelihoods of 16,000 people.