COMMUNITY HEALTH OUTREACHES IN WAJIR COUNTY HELPING CHILDREN SUFFERING FROM MALNUTRITION
In Wajir County, the rotting carcasses of cows, sheep, and goats lie in various stages of decomposition. The bodies of animals keep increasing every day, festering in the scorching sun. We meet a lone camel walking in the dusty streets, about to collapse in the soaring heat.
While drought is relatively common in North Eastern, Kenya, the current drought is one of the worst to be experienced in recent years. Pastoralists are more vulnerable to the drought because they live in harsher lands, which experience little to no rainfall yearly.
On a recent trip to Wajir County, we met 20-year-old Siada Adan, a married mother of three and a resident of Garse Ake, Buna Sub-County; grazing her cattle in the bushes.
Siada informed us that the drought crisis has really affected the lives of residents in her village. She says several people have lost their livestock, which, for many pastoralists in Northern Kenya, is their main source of livelihood. As a result, many others are surviving on only one meal, if at all any, a day. This has had adverse effects on the residents, but most especially children and expectant and lactating mothers.
It is now about two years since the drought started. There are no vegetables in this town. We neither have milk nor food to give our children, so they end up becoming weak and malnourished, she says.
She tells us that her children were on the brink of malnutrition until she heard about the outreach programs by Save the Children.
My children were really weak and had become very thin. I heard about the community health outreach programs through a neighbor and decided to take my children. Their health has since improved because they are given plumpy nuts to help boost their immunity, Siada narrates to us.
Together with the Ministry of Health and the County Government of Wajir, we conduct outreach programs every two weeks in different areas in the county. We provide services like vaccination, vitamin supplements, care for lactating and expectant mothers, training on how to take care of children among others.
I want my children to be in good health and grow well. I want them to go to school and study well so that they can become doctors, nurses or teachers. I want them to study well so that they can help me also, a hopeful Siada concludes.
According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET), the effects of a third consecutive below-average rainy season are resulting to deteriorating food security outcomes driven by the impacts of poor crop and livestock production, resource-based conflict, livestock disease and mortality, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its annual Short Rains Assessment report released in February 2022, the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) reported that there are around 3.1 million food-insecure people in pastoral and marginal agricultural areas, a 48 percent increase since August 2021. Multiple shocks driven by climate crisis have contributed to increasing vulnerability in the northern Kenya counties with pastoralists being among the worst affected households.