Kenya: Over 100,000 Face Hunger as Drought Ravages Isiolo

Isiolo residents have been asked to show compassion and share with the needy as majority of households continue to reel from the adverse effects of drought.

Clerics led by County Interfaith Network Chairman Ahmed Sett and secretary Stephen Kalunyu said a big number of residents cannot afford a single meal due to the effects of Covid-19, drought and locusts invasion, and called for immediate interventions to cushion them.

"We appeal to our Muslim and Christian brothers to show compassion to the less fortunate and needy in the society to cushion them from the harsh economic times," said Mr Sett.

Data from the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) indicate that half of Isiolo residents (134,000) are facing acute hunger, with the current drought situation at late alert stage.

NDMA Isiolo County Coordinator Lordman Lekalkuli said the dry spell has resulted in drying up of nearly 80 per cent of the water sources, threatening pastoralism which is the source of livelihood for majority of the residents.

Besides dwindling pastures that have resulted tin emaciation of livestock, residents in the far-flung Garbatulla and Merti sub-counties have been traveling for14 kilometres to and from watering points.

Vandalised boreholes

Rising insecurity in the county that has claimed over 20 lives in the last two months has limited access to the remaining watering points with, a many vandalised boreholes yet to be repaired.

Alango, Yamicha, Belgesh, Duma and Beltume boreholes are among those not in use due to breakages occasioned by, among others, banditry attacks, while Escort and Belgesh markets remain closed due to the spate of attacks in the region.

At least 43 per cent of Isiolo residents rely on borehole water.

The poor condition of animals due to reduced pastures and water shortage has resulted in low prices, making it hard for majority of the pastoralist households to afford food.

A two-year-old goat that was months ago selling for Sh4000 is now going for Sh3300 with the price expected to further reduce in the coming three months.

The drought has resulted in reduced milk production and animal birth rate, which is slightly below normal.

Acute water shortage

Reports indicate that cases of diarrhoea increased by 22 per cent between January and June this year, compared to a similar period in 2020, due to acute water shortage and poor hygiene practices.

Mr Lekalkuli said the situation is worsening by the day, adding that the dry spell continues to expose residents to a lot of suffering besides the Covid-19 pandemic which has hurt businesses and threatened livelihoods.

"Water remains the biggest challenge for the majority of the residents and the situation will worsen in the coming months as rain is expected in October," Mr Lekalkuli told Nation.Africa.

Reducing water levels in Ewaso Nyiro and Bisanadi rivers which residents rely on for domestic and irrigation water has forced locals to ration the crucial commodity. A 20-litre jerrican of water is being sold at Sh30.

The official said NDMA has partnered with the Isiolo county government to offer water trucking services to families and public facilities in hard-hit Oldonyiro, Modogashe, Belgesh, Korbesa, Saleti and Bassa areas.

NDMA will repair some of the broken boreholes to ensure residents have enough water for drinking, he said.

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