25 August 2011
Guyo Haro Wario, who works with Christian Aid partner Northern Aid, reports on the drought in north-eastern Kenya and the importance of the work he's doing to ensure pastoralists’ survival.
Looking out on the landscape the illusion of a sparkling lake welcomes you. As you approach the lake it becomes clear that it is a mirage, a twist of irony in this dry terrain.
As you pass through this rough landscape, livestock carcasses are strewn by the roadside and the smell of decomposing animals hits you.
Recorded as the worst drought in 60 years, it is pushing the pastoralists’ way of life almost to a complete collapse.
The situation is getting worse each day. While the pasture has long since disappeared, the pastoralists are now faced with the stark reality of water shortages for themselves and their animals.
Today I met with Mama Abdia Hussein Edo, a 40 year-old widow with four children. She was once regarded as ‘rich’ in the area, with 67 camels, 100 cows and 270 goats and sheep before the drought. Not any more.
‘We appreciate what you and the people supporting you are doing. I don’t have any means to say thank you, but to reciprocate your good deeds with prayers’.
She tells me that her herd is reducing fast. She says, ‘I have witnessed drought, but not to this magnitude. I don’t know what the future holds if this situation continues’.
She explains that herds are important to maintain prestige in pastoralist society, and she fears that by losing her animals, not only will this affect her livelihood but the respect people have for her too.
Her son, Ali Adawa, 21, is expected to marry at the end of this year. But the lack of rain means that his mum's herds will continue to die off, and so Ali will be left without a dowry.
She explains that her son’s marriage is essential as it means the continuity of her husband’s family lineage and the future for their herds.
Northern Aid has supported Mama Abdia by delivering water in trucks to the area where she lives. She believes that this has enabled her weak herd to survive and that she would be desperate without the support of Northern Aid. She says that the benefits from the project can be seen immediately in the herds and hopes that the water trucking project will continue as the situation worsens.
She says, ‘We appreciate what you and the people supporting you are doing. I don’t have any means to say thank you, but to reciprocate your good deeds with prayers’.