KENYA, East Africa – Millions of Kenyans do not have enough to eat amid the worsening drought, and a growing number of people have been losing their livelihoods to extreme weather.
“We don’t have markets where we can buy food and we don’t have farms. The only income we have is our livestock and we have lost that,” says Mohammed Noor Afey, a community leader in Garissa, Kenya.
In recent years, rainfed agriculture in the Horn of Africa has been crippled by the lack of rain. Livestock, one of the key livelihood sectors, has also been severely affected by climate shocks, which have become more frequent and severe.
“Rainfall patterns are highly decreasing and the temperatures increase. This means that even the water pans we have will not harvest enough water,” says Samuel Odhiambo, Garissa County Director of Kenya Meteorological Services.
A shortage of water and food for livestock has pushed many people to leave their homes.
“For the last three years, there has not been a single drop of rain. All these houses have been abandoned by their people. Few of us have remained here,” says Dubey Ibrahim Wear, a resident in Garissa. Extended migration creates additional stress for the livestock, making animals more vulnerable to diseases.
Staple food prices have reached a five-year high, while animal prices and daily wages continue to plummet. Deteriorating purchasing power led to rising rates of malnutrition among the most vulnerable communities, which have limited access to a healthy diet and health care.
Droughts are slow-onset emergencies, and meteorological forecasts for the Horn of Africa remain pessimistic.
“The meteorology department is saying we are expecting below average rainfall in the coming season, so that means we are going to have a lot of issues in terms of animal body condition deteriorating,” says Mohammed Dubow Aden, Garissa County Coordinator, Kenya Red Cross.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is working together with the Kenyan Red Cross Society to help communities build resilience in the face of erratic weather patterns. The two organizations have been distributing relief food and animal feed in four drought-affected counties. 12,000 people received food and over 30,000 received livestock feed. At the same time, 2,000 households will receive cash support for three months.