By: Jacob Songok
GARISSA—The current drought continues to wreak havoc in Garissa County and North Eastern region at large as pastoralists continue to lose their animals in mass rendering them destitute.
According to the Kenya Red Cross some 378,000 people in Garissa are staring at starvation as the number continues to increase day by day.
The drought has taken a heavy toll on the Counties due to the prevailing situation of depressed rains or lack of rainfall in the past four consecutive rainy seasons.
A spot check in Lagdera and Dadaab sub-counties revealed a dire situation of extreme water scarcity and worsening rates of malnutrition across the county.
Desperate pastoralists who spoke to the press called on the National and County governments and relevant aid agencies to scale up intervention measures and alleviate their suffering.
Hassan Sugal, a resident of Abakaile ward in Dadaab Sub County said that he lost 120 animals in the last one year’s through drought.
“In April this year my son left with my herd of 120 cows, sheep and goats to Kimsayo in search of pasture and water. Three months later he come back empty handed. All animals had died,” Sugal said.
“I was lost for words and almost went mad. I could not believe him and had to call people there who confirmed the sad news. As we speak am left wondering what the future holds for me and my family. How will I fend for my family? I am humbling appealing for help,” he added.
Abdi Barre, a resident of Abakeile lost 180 animals among them 80 goats and sheep and is wondering how he will go about providing for his family considering that livestock is his only source of livelihood.
“You can imagine losing all your livestock in a few months through drought and left with absolutely nothing. I am so stressed and really don’t know what do. As we speak one of my sons is supposed to be joining university in September and I don’t know where I will get his fees from,” Barre said.
The Kenya Red Cross is now engaging in an integrated drought management programme that comprise cash transfers and animal offtake.
Speaking in Eldere, Lagdera Sub County where he had gone to oversee the exercise, Garissa County Kenya Red Cross coordinator Mohamed Dubow said if it does not rain in October, November and December season then the number of those affected will rise to over 420,000 which translates to nearly half Garissa County population.
“We are at the crisis face of the drought and even though there are many interventions that are currently being undertaken by both the National and County Government and other agencies, there is need to upscale the same since the number of those in need is increasing by the day,” Dubow said.
According to the meteorological department, the weather outlook projects depressed rainfall across all ASAL counties during the October-December 2022 rainfall season due to La Nina. This presents the prospect of a 5th failed rain season.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing induction Summit in Mombasa, governors from the affected counties called for immediate efforts to protect the people and their livelihoods from the biting famine.
The governors who included Nathif Jama (Garissa), Ahmed Abdullahi (Wajir), Adan Khalif (Mandera), Issa Timamy (Lamu) and Mohamud Mohamed (Marsabit) urged the National Government and other relevant agencies to urgently intervene saying the situation is deteriorating rapidly.
They said the most affected sectors are water, livestock, health, nutrition, agriculture and education.