News / Africa

Northern Kenyans Find Ways to Ease Impact of Drought

Scene in drought striken northern Kenya
Scene in drought striken northern Kenya

Multimedia

Drought and famine are causing widespread hardship across the Horn of Africa, resulting in high death rates, malnutrition, disease, loss of cattle, and other calamities. But several communities in northern Kenya, backed by aid groups, have managed to reduce the impacts of the drought through forward-looking policies such as livestock de-stocking, essential nutritional programs, and resource sharing.


The worst drought and famine to ravage the Horn of Africa in decades is having devastating results. For pastoralist communities, the death of cattle due to lack of pasture and water is the end of families’ incomes. Those cattle remaining are malnourished and sickly, in danger of dying at any moment.

Residents of the village of Funan-Qumbi in northern Kenya are not waiting for their cattle to die.

The animals are being slaughtered and their meat distributed to the area’s most vulnerable families through a European Commission-funded program that buys their cattle at higher-than-market prices.

Twenty of Abdub Guyo’s 30 animals died because of the drought. Today he has sold two goats.

“I thought it was wiser and better to sell my goats rather than lose them to the drought,” Guyo said.

Benoit Collin, the European Commission’s Disaster Risk Reduction coordinator, says the program gives the villagers a good price for their livestock.

“Then they have some earnings, and they have been able to use these earnings for water trucking, for buying food for the family, etc,” Collin said.

This is one of many initiatives that local communities, through donor support, are taking in advance to reduce the impact of drought and famine.

At the Kinisa Dispensary two hours away, malnutrition rates among children are lower than the average in other famine areas.

Head nurse Adan Sake says his clinic started following a 12-point intervention when early warning signs became apparent. “We usually de-worm children after every three months. We provide Vitamin A supplementation. We also give zinc tablets for diarrheal cases. We also promote exclusive breastfeeding to mothers.  We encourage supplementation of micro-nutrients.  We provide hygiene services.  These are part of the interventions that is containing the situation,” Sake said.  

Since the beginning of the year, health officials have also held mass screenings of village children, to look for and treat signs of malnutrition.

In northern Kenya, communities are sometimes at war with one another over resources or other issues.

Doatu Elea, an elder in Funan-Qumbi, is chairman of the village’s Disaster Risk Reduction Committee.

With donor support, he says, his Borana community held negotiations with the Gabra community, and agreed to share pasture, water, and other resources to reduce the impacts of drought.

"Everyone was so tired of war -- the effect is just disasters.  Although we fight, we have a lot in common with this community -- there are intermarriages, we are in marginalized areas, we have the same religion,” Elea said.

Communities in dry areas have many ways of coping with drought.  Neighbors share resources, pastoralists move their animals up to hundreds of kilometers away looking for pasture, and food is rationed in emergency situations.

Saphia Abdi, a program officer for the aid group "Cordaid," says most communities have what she calls “traditional early warning systems” where they know in advance when there is going to be a drought.  She says they can tell by examining the contents of animal intestines, and gazing at the stars.

“They can also look at general animal behavior.  So, if the animal moves, or faces one side, or when they make certain noises, they know it is going to be bad drought,” Abdi said.

Abdi says the most successful programs are those in which communities get donor support to fund their own ways of coping with drought, as in the case of Funan-Qumbi and Kinisa.

“So you can see organizations like Concern with their health outreach program, you can see Cordaid and SIFA coming in with de-stocking where they benefit from the meat, you can see the tanks here so they get access to water.  So being prepared in terms of even having that plan is a plus for the community here,” Abdi said.

Plans to make the best of a bad situation, until the rains come.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' 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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs