Kenya Red Cross Society using new technology to reach communities in hardship areas

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Drought Situation in Kenya

Use of electronic cash vouchers to support families affected by drought in Marsabit county, Kenya 2017

In Kenya, major droughts occur about every 10 years, with moderate droughts occurring every 3 to 4 years, mostly in the 23 Arid and Semi-Arid areas (ASALs). The ASALs have the lowest development indicators and the highest incidence of poverty in the country. The Government of Kenya declared drought as a national disaster on 10 February 2017 following the release of the Short Rains Assessment (SRA) conducted in the affected counties by the Kenya Food Security and Steering Group (KFSSG). The SRA confirmed that the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance dramatically doubled from 1.3 million people in August 2016 to 2.6 million people in February 2017 and is likely to increase as a result of drought. The current drought had its worst toll in Marsabit County, the largest county in the far North with a population of 334,277 people (66,850 households) whose source of livelihoods is purely nomadic pastoralism. The County was exposed to higher than average food security threats that included poor distribution of short and long rains, depletion of pasture, livestock diseases, high livestock mortality, acute shortage of water, limited access to livestock market, intra and out migration of livestock, low underground water recharge for boreholes and shallow wells, water pans and broken down boreholes.

It is an awful and disturbing encounter with real face of hunger and starvation in Illeret and surrounding villages of Elmansich, lomadang, Ilolo, approximately 450 kilometers from Marsabit town. The population is traumatized by endemic starvation caused by the drought in Kenya with disturbing scenes of both young and elderly people crawling out of their low tiny huts too weak to stand. One of the affected 28 year old Mr. Yier Bokoch, crawled out of his tinny hut but could hardly take three steps before taking a deep breath and rest. His young and only wife equally weak told us that Yier is not suffering from any ill health but he has not had any meal for days due to lack of food in their household. Many elderly people and young children lay still on the bare ground under hot scorching sun with no trees to provide shade. Children are severely malnourished and shallow wells that are the main source of water have dried up.

The scorching sun is heating the bare ground with lots of carcasses of animals (camels and shoats – goats and sheep) scattered all over, as a result of drought. Adan Sora, a pastoralist says “this has been the toughest moment in my life since I have lost all my 500 shoats to the drought. I am left with nothing to depend on and I do not know how I will survive with my family not even where to begin from since this was my only source of livelihood.” He narrated in a faint voice with little energy and face of hopelessness.