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18 January 2024 - News


Dahasawayne in the company of her daughters outside their home.

By Katra Farah & Marion Kwambai

In a village in Balambala Sub County in Garissa County, Dahasawayne Ibrahim, a mother of six children has just come from the community water point, a thirty-minute walk from her house. She has brought two jerry cans of water for use by her household. 

Ibrahim tells us that the water she has just fetched is too salty and cannot be used for cooking or drinking.  Community members from this village have to buy drinking and cooking water from business people. For someone who does not have formal employment, she finds this very expensive and can only afford to buy one jerry can per week. The ongoing drought does very little to help the situation. If anything, it makes matters worse. 

“I have never seen anything like this, we have had drought before but this is the worst one I have ever experienced. I had over 300 goats that I would milk and feed my children. 200 of them have since died. I am now left with about 100 goats,” explains a devastated Ibrahim. 

Because of the drought, many children in the village are suffering from malnutrition. Two months ago, Ibrahim’s youngest children 3-year-old Fatuma and 2-year-old Asha were diagnosed with moderate acute malnutrition. They were taken to a health outreach spearheaded by Save the Children in partnership with the Ministry of Health. 

 Ibrahim is however worried because the Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) treatment, which her children were given at the health outreach, is shared among all her children because she lacks food to give the other two.   

“My sick children cannot recover because the treatment they get from the outreach is shared with the other children. There is no milk for them to drink and sometimes we only have one meal a day. This is not helping the situation,” says Ibrahim.  

Katra Farah, a Nutrition officer from Garissa says the ongoing drought has had very adverse effects on children’s health. 

“As pastoralists, these communities depend fully on their livestock for milk and meat as sources of protein. They also sell the livestock and use the money to buy other foods like vegetables, for nutrients. When they do not get this, then children’s health especially those under 5 years, is compromised,” says a concerned Katra.  

Since the start of the drought emergency, Save the Children has been providing humanitarian assistance through the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) funded by USAID.  Among the interventions in the program are emergency integrated health outreaches, cash transfers, livestock feeds, nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene and child protection services.  

The program has also supported Ibrahim with cash transfers and livestock feeds, which have enabled her to buy foodstuff and clean water for her family as well as sustain her remaining 100 goats respectively.  

Kenya is experiencing one of the worst droughts in over four decades. Historical analogs of waning La Nina events indicate that the consecutive long rains will likely also be below average, potentially making it the sixth consecutive below-average rainy season. The continuation of the drought into 2023 resulted in another below-average harvest in marginal agricultural areas and the further deterioration of already below-average pasture and water resources in pastoral areas, making pastoral livelihoods increasingly unviable.