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6-Drought in Kenya's Ewaso Ngiro river basin | by Climate Centre
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6-Drought in Kenya's Ewaso Ngiro river basin

4 April 2017 – Pastoralists living in the Ewaso Ngiro river basin in central Kenya (photo) are digging for water and fear they will have to begin large-scale cattle destocking if the next rains are poor. With much of the river system totally dried up in Isiolo county for months, there is no option but to sink ‘shallow wells’ into the river bed and scoop out the filthy, mud-coloured groundwater with domestic utensils, then lug it on donkey carts to villages. In the merciless heat of the dry riverbed, it’s exhausting work that leaves little energy for much else. But it’s a task that Hawo Holale and Hawo Racho have to perform every two days, carrying their haul back to their village, Gafarsa, about four kilometres away in yellow 20-litre containers. This has to meet all their families’ needs: drinking for animals and people alike, cooking, washing. The only alternative – buying water at 30 shillings for 20 litres – is not an option. When the shallow wells dry up or get too deep to be usable, the menfolk spend a couple of days digging a new one. The women share the river bed with scores of herdsmen who have trekked their cattle and camels in from the bush as much as 20 kilometres away. They squat in what shade there is – under armed guard, given the drought-induced rise in tension over water – while the livestock drink from troughs set up alongside the wells. Everyone agrees the next rains due about now are pivotal, but to some degree or other most are also aware that the current seasonal forecast from the Kenya Meteorological Department is for “depressed” – i.e. significantly below normal – rainfall in most parts of the country. The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) last week warned the number of people in need of food assistance in the drought has reached 3 million nationwide, while the government says the figure could climb to 4 million in the next few weeks. The National Society and the IFRC also announced they have increased their appeal to $US25 from US$9m and are now seeking to assist just over a million people. “The situation is getting worse every day,” said Dr Abbas Gullet, KRCS Secretary General and IFRC vice-president. “Malnutrition rates among children are steadily climbing. Children are getting sick, and livelihoods of families have been decimated following the loss of thousands of their livestock. “It is more and more difficult for people to access water – people are having to travel for up to three times as long just to get water for their family. This is an emergency that will not improve without help.” (Photo: Denis Onyodi/KRCS)

 

 

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Uploaded on April 3, 2017