At least 100,000 Kwale residents need food, water aid as drought bites

Drought

The carcass of a cow that die following drought in Kilifi County in this picture taken on September 25, 2021.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

A humanitarian crisis is looming in Kwale County as drought-caused hunger bites residents in two sub-counties.

At least 180,000 people require food and water.

The Kenya Red Cross says the drought has killed at least 500 animals while 90 per cent of water pans have run dry, forcing people to walk tens of kilometres to search for water.

Some of the most affected areas are Chengoni, Makamini, Samburu, Mackinnon Road, Majii ya Chumvi, Mwavumbo and Makamini in Kinango sub-county.

Upper Lungalunga has also been affected by the lack of rain.

In Makamini, residents walk several kilometres to get water for their domestic use and livestock, as most water pans have dried up.

“The situation keeps getting worse and more people now need food relief. These areas are also the ones affected by poverty,” Kwale Red Cross coordinator Mohamed Mwaenzi told the Nation.

Due to the tough economic times, Mr Mwaenzi said, people are taking desperate measures such as making charcoal by cutting down trees.

“Many people do not have a stable source of income. So they cut available trees and sell the charcoal, which is the most available resource to get money and buy water,” he said.

A 20 litre jerrycan now costs Sh50.

Besides human-wildlife conflict, he said, strife has also increased between the Maasai and Somali communities because the former’s animals are moving from Samburu to Mwereni in search of pasture and water.

Lawrence Malau, a farmer in Makamini, said that his 100 cows had been reduced to less than 10 after he sold some while others died due to hunger.

“There is no water, and they have to be taken to water pans very early in the morning and only arrive there later in the day because the nearest water pans have all dried up,” he said.

Other livestock farmers are also counting losses, with some forced to sell their animals for way less than their value before they succumb.

Kwale County Commissioner Gideon Oyagi said that officials were planning to distribute relief food and water.

“The situation in the villages is alarming. However, we are working in partnership with the county government to ensure that they are supplied with water and food,” he said, adding that the government had not listed Kwale among the most drought-affected areas.

The drought affects parts of the Coast region in Lamu, Tana River and Kilifi counties.

Two months ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta designated the drought a national disaster. But Kwale was not listed among counties affected by drought and whose residents require food and water aid.

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