Pauline, 30, lives with her five children in the dust-blown village of Parkishon, near Marsabit, northern Kenya. Parkishon was a dairy producing community, but over the last year nearly 10,000 goats and cattle have died due to the drought in east Africa.
Two weeks ago, while Pauline was collecting water, a leopard took three of her younger goats leaving her and her family with very little to get by on.
‘The drought has affected everyone here,’ Pauline explains. ‘We’ve never experienced anything like this. Food and water are so scarce I often go without so I can feed my children. It is very hard when they ask for more - I have nothing to give them. Going without food myself means that I have no milk in my breast when I feed Leo, my youngest son who is nine months old.’
She adds: ‘I have seen many children in the village eating earth because they are so hungry. That has made them ill with diarrhoea and vomiting.’
But help is available thanks to Christian Aid’s partner Christian Community Services (CCS) which visits the village regularly to alleviate the effects of the drought.
CCS delivers water in tankers and monitors the health of children, the elderly, pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding. Each family also receives 45kg of animal feed which is essential.
‘When I give this feed to the goats they are so happy,’ exclaims Pauline. ‘It’s so funny, the goats even recognise the sacks by now! Because the goats eat well it means that I can give milk to the children; and it’s good quality milk.
‘The children get half a glass of milk every day, and that raises their level of nutrition. The goats are getting nutritious feed and I can see that they are healthier, their coats are smooth and their eyes are bright and they walk stronger – and the kids are livelier too.’
The CCS is a lifeline for them but communities like Parkishon are still very vulnerable. Climate change, scarce resources, and the drought have driven more people deeper into poverty.
Christian Aid and its partners will continue to work here, hand in hand with communities, to seek long-term solutions to the problems they face.
Together we hope and work for a more sustainable future for the people of northern Kenya and one where life is about more than simply surviving.
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