News / Africa

Drought Brings Extreme Hardship to Kenyan Women

Women bind their stomachs with cloth or rope to stave off hunger

Kim Lewis

International humanitarian organization ActionAid says women are one of the worst affected groups during this and other crises across East Africa.

In Kenya, where recurrent droughts have plagued various parts of the country over the last few years, women have been left as the sole provider of their families.

“We’re finding women are becoming heads of households as their husbands are leaving, either in search of jobs or to migrate with their livestock—if their livestock is still alive.  That puts increased pressure on women to provide for their children,” said Airlie Taylor, a communications officer with the emergencies and conflicts team of ActionAid.

Mothers must often leave their children behind sometimes for hours as they set out on foot to search for food.

“We’re finding that they’re having to trek longer distances in order to find water,” said Taylor, “and that means they are taking up more of their day doing that.  This brings an increase in violence, so they might be victims of sexual violence or other forms of violence.”

She said coping with drought and hunger also puts a woman’s health at risk, especially with her new responsibilities as head of the family.

“In some cases,” said Taylor, “women are foregoing meals.  The little food they do find will be given to children and older members of the community first.  Most of the time there is not enough to go around so the women do not eat.”

Relief workers prepare to distribute food-aid rations at a camp for the internally displaced in Mogadishu.
Relief workers prepare to distribute food-aid rations at a camp for the internally displaced in Mogadishu.

Instead, in some parts of Kenya, women have resorted to a life-threatening practice as a means of coping with hunger.

“We found women who are either tying bits of rope or cloth around their stomach, essentially binding their stomach.  That’s really to stave off hunger and they feel it makes them stronger.” said Taylor.

Stomach binding brings on serious health risks.  Taylor said when food does become available and women release the bound cloth, her stomach cannot cope with the intake of food, thus creating serious health problems for the women.

ActionAid says it is working to address the most immediate needs of the women and their families -- providing food and water.  They are also working with them with the long term goal of building up livestock and getting their livelihoods back on track.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid