Animal carcasses littered the fields and stench of dead animals pervaded the air in Kenya’s Marsabit County this week, the result of a prolonged period of drought which destructed forage for animals and made local population dependent on handouts to survive.
People in more than half of Kenya’s 42 counties face starvation due the cycle of famine related deaths brought about by ongoing drought that has seen an estimated 1.3 million Kenyans acutely food insecure and in need of assistance.
Residents are losing their animals in thousands due to lack of pasture and water and are forced to travel tens of kilometers for the valuable resource.
Kenya Red Cross has stepped in to try and mitigate the situation by carrying out a cash transfer to a population of about 340,000 who are in dire need of aid.
Kenya Red Cross Societies Secretary General Abbas Gullet says the organization is appealing for financial aid to a tune of US$100m.
“Of the one billion, 75% of that is going on the whole issue of cash transfer because we want to give people cash,” he said.
The Governor of Marsabit Ukur Yatani, said that Marsabit is the most affected county in terms of the challenges of drought.
Prices of livestock drop
“We lost quite a number of livestock, over 60%, serious challenges of water, people are also starving, most schools are closed and the challenges are beyond the county government to manage at the moment,” he said.
The drought has seen prices of livestock drop as farmers compete to dispose them of before they are all dead.
Asha Ali, a resident of Marsabit said she had lost more than half her animals and was grateful the Red Cross came calling.
“Since we are out of pasture I will use some of the money for my livestock feed, some I will use for my household, the little I can save will be good for me,” Asha Ali said moment after receiving her cash.
Marsabit has experienced three failed rainy seasons and categorized as in alarming stage of drought.
Residents whose only wealth is animals, are hoping the rains will come soon but meteorological department is giving a grim picture urging residents not to expect rain anytime soon.
Kenya’s long rains season, from March to May, is critical for the wellbeing of its farmers and livestock herders.
The 2016 long rains were poor, leaving 1.3 million Kenyans in need of food aid, according to the government, which has started distributing maize, beans and rice to hungry people in the worst-affected northern and coastal regions.
This year’s long rains are also likely to be poor, with a delayed start and below average rainfall, meteorologists said.