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Bringing the Somali community together

Lives at stake as drought hits Kenya’s northeast county

GARISSA, Kenya, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) — Humanitarian crises is looming in northeast Kenya’s county of Garissa, which borders Somalia as thousands of pastoralists’ families are hit by escalating drought that has led to drying up of water sources and depletion of pasture.

Affected families have appealed to the government as well as the international community to speedily intervene as escalating drought threatens their lives and that of their livestock.

Most water points have dried up forcing residents to heavily depend on inadequate remaining wells, which have changed color and developed foul smell due to contamination from the high number of animals and people converging at them for survival.

Large population of those stricken by the raging dry spell have to trek, in some cases more than 30 km to find water for drinking and for domestic use.

Ijara Sub-sub County, one of the areas hardest hit by the drought schools and health facilities are on the verge of shut down with respective administrators fearing keeping the children and patients could pose more danger to their health.

According to residents interviewed, chances of water born diseases like cholera spreading were high because of lack of clean water.

A spot check in some of the areas showed that children in the drought affected areas have already started showing signs of contraction of water borne diseases such as diarrhea.

When Xinhua visited the only water dam in Korisa location in Ijara sub-county in Garissa, there was beehive of activities; local residents were seen busy drawing the visibly contaminated water with pungent smell and at some points compete with thirsty livestock and wild animals.

“Thirsty wild animals are “fighting” with people over the access of the only water source in this area. Residents were forced to take turns day and night to keep way buffaloes from the dam, but now we have given up because it’s extremely risky to ward off the thirsty wild animals as they come in big numbers and take a forcibly turn in drinking the water,” a resident Haret Nasteh said.

He said most livestock moved deep into Boni forest saddled between Ijara and Lamu as the drought situation worsen on daily basis in pursuit of greener pasture.

“As you can see this is our only water source. We, therefore urgently appeal to the government and international community to come to our aid urgently because if the situation is fast going out of hand,” he added.

According to Garissa County’s National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), the dry spell is at an alarming stage in the county noting that Ijara sub-county is the hardest hit due to water points have dried up.

The authority said unlike previous dry spell, which only affected families on hinterland, the current drought also destabilized people living around the river line areas. Cases of human-wildlife conflict has surged up into alarming proportion, as thirsty wild animals invade human settlement in bid to get water to consume.

Ijara sub-county administrator Mohamed Ahmed Dahir said the county government is overstretched with overwhelming number of families requiring water and food provision as it’s impossible to provide all drought victims living different parts of the expansive county.

“We would like to appeal to donors to intervene as the situation is getting out of hands,” he added.

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