6.8 C
Monday, December 11, 2023
HomeAgricultureFrom Dry to Drenched: Northern Kenya Struggles with Food Insecurity

From Dry to Drenched: Northern Kenya Struggles with Food Insecurity


Northern Kenya, after enduring five failed rainy seasons and severe drought for over two years, was hit by floods once the rain finally arrived. This has left communities in the region anxious about what the future holds in terms of climate change. According to the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of people affected by the drought in Kenya rose from 4.46 million last year to 6.40 million. The rain, which arrived in a deluge between March and May, caused flooding as the dried-out ground was unable to absorb the water. As a result, fields and homes were damaged or destroyed. The OCHA reports that a total of 5.44 million people in the country are currently suffering from acute food insecurity. In Marsabit county, located in northern Kenya, 309,000 people are still in a state of emergency due to the flooding. Christian Aid Ireland CEO Rosamond Bennett, who visited Marsabit in June 2023, stated that the communities went from drought to flooding in a very short period of time. She witnessed damaged or destroyed houses and villages cut off from the outside world. Bridges were deemed unsafe, and communities had no access to local markets. Despite the increased greenery in the region, there are fewer animals to graze on it, as 2.6 million livestock have died due to the drought. Communities have resorted to growing maize using old seeds that were previously meant for animal fodder. This will be their first harvest to feed themselves. However, Rosamond emphasized that food insecurity remains a pressing issue and that a few rains after five seasons of drought cannot solve the problem. During the rainy season, many communities were isolated for about a month. The affected people determine the support they need, and with funding from Christian Aid Ireland, large water tanks holding 10,000L were purchased and filled with water for sale within the communities. The organization has also been assisting people with disabilities. The community decided to establish and run a shop themselves, and they received livestock support. Even during the floods, when people couldn’t sell their produce, locals had access to the shop. Looking ahead, people are now focusing on water conservation to avoid future isolation due to drought or flooding. The uncertainty surrounding the next rainy season, from October to December, poses a challenge. If seeds are planted in anticipation of heavy rains, they may be washed away. If no seeds are planted and the rains are light, an opportunity is missed. Rosamond stressed the importance of drought-resistant seeds and encouraged diversification of crops for easier marketability. However, the unpredictable effects of climate change make it difficult to determine how the environment will change. Self-help groups are working with the most vulnerable members of the community to ensure food production. Despite the difficulties faced by everyone, there is a strong sense of community spirit. People support each other, even in their most challenging times. The anxiety and nervousness about future rains and drought are palpable among the communities. The question of how to collect water and protect themselves in the future remains. Many of the people Rosamond met are herders who constantly search for water and pasture for their livestock. However, Christian Aid Ireland believes that there is no future in this way of life and that education is crucial for children to find alternative livelihoods. One herder, Diboya Kombe, a 35-year-old mother of three from Ngurnit, Laisamis, received €75 per month in local currency from Christian Aid Ireland.

Thomas Lyons
Thomas Lyons
Thomas, the founder and chief editor at Top Rated, harbours a deep-seated passion for business, news, and product reviews. His thirst for knowledge and experience has led him on a journey across the length and breadth of the country, enabling him to garner a wealth of insight. At TopRated.ie, his sole aim is to deliver meticulously researched news and provide impartial reviews of fact checked Irish companies, thus helping readers make well-informed decisions.


- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

- Browse free from up to 5 devices at once

Latest stories