A recurring drought in parts of Kenya
has affected millions of people and has caused population shifts from rural
areas to towns and villages. For
example, many thousands of subsistence farmers in the Nyeri and Laikipia
Districts in central Kenya have moved to slums.
Waweru, livelihood and emergency coordinator for the Catholic aid group Caritas
Kenya, is in Nyeri directing humanitarian operations.
effects of drought are so severe currently because farmers have not had an
adequate harvest in the last six seasons.
And that translates into food shortage…lack of water for domestic
use…lack of income…. And of course there
are a lot of deaths in terms of livestock," he says.
hardships have also led to some violence, not only between people, but also
between people and wildlife competing for scarce resources. Waweru says there's also been an increase in
"petty thieves and thuggery."
Laikipia District was one of Kenya's breadbasket areas, located nearly 200
kilometers north of Nairobi.
to the government figures…close to 9 to 10 million people are affected. But in our region, the central Kenya
region…west of Mt. Kenya, close to 400,000 are affected by this drought,
primarily farmers and pastoralists," he says.
Towns and villages offer little comfort
"It's true that a majority of household
heads…are moving out of their usual residences to towns in search of…jobs and
alternative livelihoods…. Most of the people
actually look upon petty labor for them to sustain their lives. But unfortunately, there is very little that
they can do at the moment because there's no farming activity," Waweru says.
women seek positions as nannies or domestic workers.
has been a main regional distributor of aid supplied by the U.N. World Food
Program since 2000.
targeting 68,000 very needy people. We
are appealing that this number is much, much less than…the people in need. And we are hopeful that the number is soon
going to be increased to close to 200,000 people," he says.
community-based programs supply food rations each month, but he says those
supplies usually only last about three weeks.
So, Waweru says, there's a need for full monthly or "100 percent"
they do not have anything…and the coping mechanisms are extended to the
Caritas and the WFP say unless donor funding increases, it will be difficult to
expand humanitarian programs.
Less rain, more often
last severe drought was in 2000 when we targeted close to 200,000 people. And before that it was actually not an issue
because at that time it was isolated….
But since 2000," he says, "we have had four regimes of emergency
intervention. And in the last three
years, believe me, the situation has deteriorated."
blames climate change for the droughts.
"The weather pattern has definitely
changed. Rainfall is no longer coming as
scheduled. We normally have two cropping
seasons every year. Now we cannot even
manage one single season," he says.