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Drought worsens in Kenya amid insufficient rain

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Nov 23, 2022 - 06:35 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – A drought in northern Kenya is worsening, despite the country receiving sporadic rainfall in November, which weather forecasters say will not be sufficient.

Chris Ngetich, a climate scientist from the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), in a statement noted that “in most parts of the country, we’re likely to receive depressed rainfall, and increased probabilities (of such rainfall) are likely over the eastern and northern sectors.”

KMD has said that during October, November and December, most areas are likely to see a generally poor distribution of rain but noted that despite the lack of sufficient rainfall, isolated storms capable of causing flash floods are possible.

In northern Kenya, locals have taken to digging for drinking and cooking water underground in dangerous sand pits that they dig in dry riverbeds.

Anadolu Agency caught up with James Ole Siran, a 41-year-old nomadic pastoralist who owns 14 camels and 15 goats in the village of Lekkuruki in Samburu county together with his wife and two sons. They had spent hours digging a two-meter (6.5-foot) pit in the sand in search of water.

“This water is brown, salty and murky, but it is key to the survival of our livestock. Look around and you will find many holes like this in the sand. It is our only source of water right now as we wait for the rains,” Siran said.

Siran said he had lost more than half of his camel population and dozens of other livestock in the current drought, which the government has warned is the worst that Kenya has witnessed in 40 years.

Nkerai Namuka, another pastoralist, said that in his village, many are relying on food aid.

“We have nothing to eat. Most of our animals died months ago, when the drought situation became worse. Right now, we rely mostly on aid. There is no water. And without water, there is no pasture. That is why people are digging these wells in the sand. The pits can collapse at any time,” Namuka said.

The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, released a statement Tuesday with other humanitarian aid partners calling for $472.6 million in aid in 2023 to respond to the drought to help 4.3 million drought-affected people.

“In pastoral areas, herders have already lost 2.5 million livestock as a result of the drought. Early projections indicate the possibility of a sixth consecutive poor rainy season from March to May 2023,” the UN warned.

Ukraine donates 25,000 tons of wheat to Kenya

Kenya’s Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Tuesday appealed for help to aid drought-ravaged communities across Kenya as he received wheat aid for drought victims from Ukraine.

Despite the war with Russia, Ukraine donated 25,000 metric tons of wheat to Kenya on Tuesday. Gachagua said the wheat will be distributed to counties severely affected by the ongoing drought.

“Our resources cannot be sufficient to address the challenges of climate change. Therefore, the government is appealing for assistance to address the resource gap in implementing drought interventions to minimize losses and catastrophic farming yields,” he said.

According to the UN, at least 4.35 million people in Kenya go to bed hungry, and approximately 5 million people do not have enough water for drinking, cooking or cleaning due to the drought.

Communities in the Horn of Africa, including Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, are bracing for the worst drought in decades as they prepare for a fifth consecutive dry season. Across the three countries, over 36 million people are affected.

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