Mary Mwendwa
May 8, 2012

Northern Kenya is generally hot and dry. The people of Northern Kenya are mostly pastoralists and living in dry harsh terrains. Our network member Mary Mwendwa has been there. She now takes us on an exploratory journey of the dry and dusty drought-ridden plains of North Eastern Kenya in search of water.

Women and children carrying jerry cans on their backs, donkeys with water on their backs, flocks of cattle, goats and camels are just some of the regular images one sees along the dusty and dry roads of a village town – Elwak, located in the North Eastern province of Kenya, Mandera Central District.

No tarmac road exists here; it’s a rough terrain with dust and bushy thorny plantations which are drought resistant,
A community known for its nomadic lifestyle and pastoralism, the harsh climatic conditions here of scotching heat and no rainfall has left many residents in need of water.

People waiting for water at borehole 11 -elwak

This precious commodity is shared amongst the people and their livestock which is part of them. People here belong to the Garre community who speak both Somali and Borana language and are Muslims by religion.

Drought and famine here are so severe to a level that people and livestock lose life and children get malnourished as the situation worsens.

Last year’s drought was a bad one; they lost lots of livestock, having no place to take their livestock as their neighbor Somalia was in the same situation.

Claudio Siotum, the livestock officer in the District, shortage of water and pasture is the main problem facing people here, it gets worse when there is drought and people start feeding their cows on cotton paper mixed with sugar and some water.
“Rainfall here is never our vocabulary, two years can pass without a single drop of rainfall’’, says Halima Boru, a mother of four aged 32 who has lived here her entire life.

A region close to the porous Somalia border seven kilometers away from Somalia. Life here is never a bed of roses. People walk for so many kilometers to get access to clean water. Amaney Fatuma, a teenage girl here walks for seven kilometers every day to get to a borehole that serves the entire community.

Borehole 11 –As they call it, is just a savior to the people here, the wells they have dug in their villages produce saline water and only borehole 11 has clean and sweet water.’’ Maji Tamu” loosely translated in English ‘’sweet water’’.This borehole was constructed with the help of Kenya Red Cross Society .

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