September 9, 2009
Many people have been asking about how our friends in Kenya are faring with the severe water shortage. As The New York Times reported on September 7, a “devastating drought is sweeping across Kenya.” Unfortunately, as you can see in the map above, also from the Times, the Samburu fall squarely in the water-starved area.
The Voss Foundation well in Latakwen was dug deeply enough that it is still drawing water, but the rest of the region is not as lucky.
We asked our friends on the ground in Kenya how they are faring and they responded:
At the moment all the talk is about the drought and if it is indeed the worst drought since the early 80’s or even earlier…
We visited Latakwen just last week and are flabbergasted that there is still water in the Voss Foundation well and it is still pumping – it is low but we think it will make it till the end of the drought, otherwise we will certainly help the community to dig deeper for more water.
But even with water at Latakwen the food shortage is dire. With cows, goat and camels not getting adequate fodder or water they are not producing milk, which is one of the Samburu’s staple foods. Their other staple foods such as maizemeal and beans have now nearly doubled/trebled in price because of the lack of supply from the drought, which of course is unaffordable for these people…
Such effects of the lack of water were visible all over the land – livestock and wildlife perishing – but the people of the Milgis with the clean drinking water at Latakwen have the chance to at least sustain themselves – but when the rains do eventually arrive what will they have left?…
But Swari of course has been hit hard, many inhabitants have fled to where there is some water left and grazing for their livestock but they are all heavily waiting and relying on the soon to be implanted solar pump – it will certainly change a lot of lives.
What aid agencies, as mentioned in the article, don’t understand is that they can’t just hand out food to these people and expect them to survive – yes for the short period but these people’s lives, in northern Kenya especially, rely on livestock – a walking, breathing bank account that they must watch and care for every second of the day and night so as to protect their future and that of their families…
If these aid agencies would put their millions of dollars into something sustainable like water reservoirs in preparation for the droughts it would really make the most difference – a packet of maize-meal may last a couple of days for a family but a well maintained water source for both humans and livestock can last a lifetime.
At the end of the day such articles hold no exaggeration, the situation here is devastating but these wonderful people are holding a smile on their face and hope in their heart and are all pulling together to survive.
We are, of course, very happy that our well and water reserve system in Latakwen is still helping, but the current drought highlights the need for so much more work on providing sustainable water sources for the people of Sub-Saharan Africa.
We hope to report back with happier news as soon as possible.