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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Samburu County residents in dire need of food as drought bites

By Zawadi Mohamed

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Residents of Samburu County are on the verge of starvation as the authorities grapple with prolonged acute drought.

The County leadership is desperately seeking for food aid as the number of malnourished children grows by the day.

Samburu residents had already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and were dealing with the desert locusts when the drought hit, tripling their misery and adding to their burden.

Of the population, the hardest hit are women, children and the elderly from the northern parts of the county.

They are forced to trek for long distances in search of food, water and pasture for their livestock.

Children have been forced to drop-out of schools in order to help their parents in the search for daily bread that is so hard to come by.

According to reports, Wamba, Archers Post, Baragoi, South Horr, Barsaloi, Suyian, Loonjorin, Opiroi and Nachola are the most affected areas in the county.

In some of these areas, residents wake-up as early as 4am to sit on roadsides to beg for water from motorists.

Throughout the entire day, they endure the scorching sun. The authority issued a drought alert about a week ago and called for urgent intervention.

According to Alex Leseketet, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) coordinator in the region, there has been an acute water shortage in Samburu East and Samburu North for many months.

“The situation is getting worse and pastoralists have been hit by water shortages and pastures have been exhausted. About 50,000 people in the county are straining and in a very dire situation,” said Leseketet.

In Marsabit, Isiolo, Baringo and Turkana counties, the situation is also the same and due to escalating tension and insecurity, some pasture areas are inaccessible.

There is a growing concern that the situation may spark conflicts as groups scramble for the scarce resources.

Affected families are now calling upon the government to intervene speedily, saying many are at risk of malnutrition.

Those rearing camels are relying on milk for survival.

The most recent data from NDMA also shows severely malnourished children stand at 0.2 per cent and moderately at 26.7 per cent.

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