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Millions Impacted by Drought in Northern Kenya

Turkana women and their children wait to receive relief food supplies near the Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana District, northwest of Kenya's capital Nairobi

The ongoing drought in northern Kenya has put millions of people in need of immediate food assistance. Many children are at risk of facing the devastating effects of severe malnutrition.
But the effects of acute water shortages on families are even more far reaching. They include lifestyle changes in communities experiencing water shortages.

Airlie Taylor, communications officer for ActionAid International’s International Emergencies and Conflict Team, says that the lack of water is changing the way families live.

“We’ve seen women whose traditional domestic roles have made them the main water collectors, are increasingly being faced with the task of walking farther distances to find water, or spending a lot of time scraping water from shallow wells with water pans.”

She said this is taking up a lot more of their time and leaving them less for other things.
Taylor said the drought is causing families to break up.

“We find the men have migrated with their livestock to find water, leaving the women and children at home. So there is a social impact with the drought situation. It’s not just about a lack of water and people going hungry,” said Taylor.

The ActionAid official said children are among the most vulnerable groups as they are less able of coping with less food and water. She said consequently, the shortages have forced many families to pull their children out of school.

“Children are being pulled out of school, either because their families are migrating closer to water sources, or because the families have lost their livestock and no longer have a means to make a living, can no longer afford to pay school fees or to pay for school uniforms,” said Taylor.