Hadija Ukalake is the head of Mochuro, a small village in the Garbatulla region of of Kenya. In Mochuro, 285 families live below the official poverty line. Three-quarters of families in the village have come from Somalia, having fled their home country's lawlessness for the relative peace of Kenya. Traditionally, families in the community have made their livelihoods keeping animals, but this pastoral way of life has been all but wiped out by two years of drought. The greater part of the community's herds have died for lack of water and pasture. Now people are largely dependent on food aid from the government.
It's not enough. Malnutrition is a serious problem here. As part of its emergency response to the drought, Action Against Hunger has provided monetary assistance to vulnerable families, so they are able to buy food at the local market.
Also in Mochuro, Action Against Hunger has been working closely with families to develop an agriculture program that combines pastoral activities with farming to diversify local livelihoods and improve food security. Already, 100 families have benefitted from this program. A new farm, called Iresedhulo, has been established two and a half miles from the village, along the river Wasonero. Action Against Hunger has provided families with the land, seeds and agricultural tools they need to prepare for the next harvest, and has built an irrigation system for families to grow corn, tomatoes, onions, beans and more.
"In a drought like the one currently raging across this region, agricultural planting enables families to access certain foods," says Nicolus Mwenda, Food Security Coordinator for Action Against Hunger in Garbatulla. "Shortly, these families will reap a harvest of maize, beans and tomatoes, among other produce."
The Iresedhulo farm is also benefitting 200 families from Gafarsa, another small town a few miles from Mochuro. "Because of the drought, all our animals are dead," says Adam Agodu, the leader of the community. “Our children are in a serious state of malnutrition, because families depend on meat and milk from their animals to survive. At least Action Against Hunger has provided us with seeds and now we have some food."
Families in Gafarsa are also being affected by water shortages. Villagers depend on a single water source, which comes to the community through a four-mile pipe. "We have had to ration our water use,” says Adam Agodu. Still, the amount of water a family can access in one day remains far below the World Health Organisation’s recommended amount to meet basic needs.
Action Against Hunger is working with these communities, and many others, to ensure that people have access to clean water for their families, farms, and animals.