More support needed to help communities affected by drought in Northern Kenya

By Pasca Chesach ,Christian Aid Kenya. 
Unprecedented fifth consecutive rainfall failure and warmer than usual temperatures in Northern Kenya have accelerated depletion of rangeland and water resources as well as  internal livestock movements in search of pastures and water are expected to remain unusually high. Household and livestock watering distances are significantly above average. 98percent of open water sources are depleted. Crisis-emergency food security outcomes are likely to persist due to constrained household income and increased depletion of livelihood assets. With failure of five consecutive rainfall seasons, available pasture is expected to last one month in the pastoral areas of Kenya’s  North Horr region.

Caption: Tune Billi in Durte, Marsabit County. Through ACT Appeal Implemented by Christian Aid , her family received cash to help her buy food and other essentials. Credit: Christian Aid/Pasca Chesach

Tune Sharamo Billi 27 years, is a mother of three children aged (3yrs, 6yrs and 12 yrs) and lives with her husband in Durte, Marsabit County. With the ongoing drought she and her family have been struggling to make ends meet and to put food on the table. Together with her husband , they support  their extended family in providing their basic needs. 
Tune had always been resourceful and hardworking, but the drought and conflict in the region had made it increasingly difficult for her to find enough food for her family. Like many others in the region, Tune relies on her herd to support herself and her family, but the ongoing drought has decimated her herd.

My husband and I used to have 60 goats and two camels but all of our two camels and 50 of my goats have died because of the drought,” Tune says.
 ‘There is a day I heard about a cash transfer program by Pastoralist Community Initiative and Development Assistance (PACIDA) that was targeting vulnerable households like mine, but I never thought that I would be eligible for it because I come from a community with 175households, and we all are facing this prolonged drought with no food to eat.’

One day, a community leader approached me and told me that I had been selected to receive cash transfers as part of the program. I was overjoyed and grateful for the opportunity to provide for my family. This was going to make a huge difference in our lives.

Tune who is expecting  her fourth child, says that she could go for days without having something to eat. She adds that during one of her clinic visits, the doctor told her that she was anemic and at danger of being malnourished. She says that she was really worried of her health and also especially that of her children (pictured). With the cash transfer, Tune was able to buy food and other essentials for her family.

‘I used the money that I received to buy rice, maize flour, sugar, and beans…I am now able to support my family and my in-laws too. My 12-year daughter is excited to waking up and going to school because she can now get breakfast, and even dinner.’

Tune’s household is among the 555 households who have been supported by ACT Appeal , implemented by Christian Aid -Kenya through their  local partner PACIDA. She received close to Ksh.9,000 every month  from January and February and is set to receive further cash support in the month of March. The Multipurpose cash transfer enables the family to meet their needs 
The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing its fifth failed rainy season in a row. There are still unmet needs as the situation worsens ,with below-average rainfall also predicted for the upcoming March-May rainy season this year and for communities in the region like Tune’s will need ongoing support.

Pasca Chesach is a communication Assistant for Christian Aid Kenya.