Northern Kenya is experiencing a severe drought and famine, the worst drought for this region in forty years. A fifth failed rainy season is caused by climate change and the La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, according to the U.S.’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The result is a crisis that is staggering in its size and devastation:
- 35 million people in Kenya face food insecurity
- Almost 1 million children are acutely malnourished
- 135,000 pregnant and lactating women are malnourished
- Nearly 1 million people in Kenya and Somalia have been forced to migrate from their homes to seek food and water.
- Over 2.5 million livestock in northern Kenya have died
With food instability and the economic instability from the loss of livestock, violence is on the rise. Frank Pope, CEO of the charity Save the Elephants, based in northern Kenya, stated, “(In) Northern Kenya we’re bordered by South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia, all of which are still in the grip of conflict that spews small arms into this ecosystem, so you’ve got a lot of weapons up here and increasing hunger…”
Lemarti Lemar, a community leader in the north Kenyan county of Samburu, says “People are just losing everything they own. If a guy loses 50 cattle, that’s a loss of $25,000 or more. But more dangerous is that the young moran (warriors) have no cattle left to look after. They get hold of illegal guns, they have nothing to do. They’ve stopped listening to the elders and some have become gangsters… We’re losing control.”
As in regions around the world that are affected by drought, women are heavily affected. Severe drought conditions amplify existing gender inequalities in their livelihoods, health, and safety. It forces women and girls to travel long distances to fetch drinking water, interfering with their schooling.
The world is responding with food, humanitarian aid, and help mitigating the damage. According to Vinaya Chalil, SCN, Kenya’s government is trying to provide food and water for humans and animals, but the need is overwhelming. The government has asked non-governmental organizations to bring aid and step in with their donations. Sister Vinaya says that almost half of Kenya (twenty-two counties) have declared drought.
While our Sisters are located in the southeastern part of the country (see Map of Kenya for Malindi area), they too affected by the extended drought. They must purchase water more often for their tank as there is not sufficient rain runoff from the roof to fill the tank. In addition, the social disruption caused by the severe drought and famine in the north affects the stability of the entire country,
by Carolyn Cromer and Joetta Venneman
How concerned we are for the good people of Kenya, for our Sisters and all affected by drought.
Shows how urgent it is o work for climate change to come to normalcy. May all of us use our hearts and brains!!
Yes it is a great concern for Kenyan people. I wished that some of that Indian Ocean water could be converted into portable water.
Some people’s greeds lead to other people’s need. Gandhiji said once that there is enough in the world for everyone’s need , not for everyone’s greed. I pray for the people of Kenya.