NAIROBI – Struggling to feed his family in a region hard-hit by a severe drought, Mude Abdille is awaiting for a drop of rain from the barren skies.
“The effect of this drought is rippling throughout our land,” a helpless Abdille told OnIslam.net on Monday, January 10.
“If it doesn't rain very soon even our people will begin dying."
The Kenyan Muslim herder is struggling to feed his family and his herd in the village of Burmaayow, a remote hamlet about 100km from Kenya’s north-eastern Muslim county of Wajir, where a crippling drought bites herders.
“The drought is slowly enveloping around our village,” said the father of seven.
“It is matter of time to start counting losses,” added the old man who is yet to recover from the effect of the previous drought.
The surrounding environment is dry and dusty. The sun-baked earth is bereft of any vegetation and the heat exacerbates every passing moment as Abdille’s herd of about 20 heads of camel face a severe shortage of pasture and water. Water is so scarce and even wells have dried up and people trek for long distances in search of water.
“He is crying for water,” says Abdille, 54, pointing to his wailing baby boy, who is sitting in his mother’s lap.
“Since yesterday, we have not had a drop of water in our homestead. The baby is restive.”
The last two years have seen erratic rainfall, which has severely damaged crop production and pasture availability for livestock. Abdille’s household relies on 20 litres of water for two days, and sometimes it might pass several days without a drop of water in his humdrum homestead. Residents here live without water sources of their own, relying on charity water tankers that travel to reach the area twice a week.
“All the watering points have dried up in our neighbourhood. The nearest place to get water is roughly 50km,” says Abdille’s wife, Amina.
Adding to their suffering, the drought has left residents struggling to find food to feed their families.
“Since the herds are growing weak by the day, milk production is barely enough to sustain the family,” says Amina.
According to charity agencies, the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition rate for the Northeastern Kenya stood at 17.2%. As per the international standards, this level is very critical.
“We just hang on for dear life,” the poor Muslim mother laments.
Like Abdille’s family, many Muslim herders are no longer able to cope up with the drought anymore.
“Things are getting from bad to worse,” says Adan Garad, a village elder. “The season is so bad. Animals have already started succumbing in several pastoral villages.”
The drought is ringing the alarm bell as full-blown disaster looms large as there are nearly two million herders suffering from it. An all out Local and international appeal has been sent by the NORTHERN KENYA CAUCUS on drought and Famine and much is needed.
“As of now, there is hardly any emergency intervention on the ground,” said Abdifatah Yare, an aid worker with WASDA, an nongovernmental organisation.
“The government always comes in late when many lives and livelihoods are lost.
“Despite many appeals from local partners on the ground, donors are still reluctant too,” he added.
The Kenyan government has appealed for an emergency intervention to feed and water thousands of famine-ravaged herders in north-eastern Kenya.
“People are simply on the deathbed,” Kenya’s Livestock Minister Mohamed Kuti told a press conference in Nairobi. “We need an emergency mitigation measure to reach out to people and livestock who are on the verge of death.”
The severe drought is not only bites Kenyan Muslims, but is also spreading across Horn of Africa.
“Death of both people and livestock is escalating,” Mohamed Abukar, the Executive Officer of Hardo, a humanitarian organization in Somalia, told OnIslam.net.
“The biggest problem is that there is no mitigation efforts going on, people are waiting simply to die.”
Besides Kenya, Somali, Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia are also affected by the drought. Horn of African, a region where the overwhelming majority are Muslims, is one of the poorest in the world and the drought is adding up to the trouble. According to the United Nations, Somalia is already facing a dire humanitarian crisis in which 3.2 million people, more than 40 percent of the population, is in need of aid.
The local media in the war-torn county have already reported people who have died as a result of starvation in south-central Somalia. A few days ago, Hiraan Online, a Mogadishu-based Somali publication, described the situation in Somalia as the worst in recent years.
''One family alone lost 500 heads of goats due to the bad season, but the terrifying thing is the owner of the goats have committed suicide after witnessing the death of his precious assets one by one,” village elder Haji Osman Khataarey told the publication.
In the tiny nation of Djibouti, the government has appealed for $38.9 million in aid to assist pastoralists and rural dwellers affected by drought. On the other side, the Eritrean Relief and Refugees Commission (ERREC) made an appeal calling for 400,000 metric tones of grain to avert the impending humanitarian crisis that would result from this year's prolonged drought.
“In the larger Horn, the drought crisis is worse than that of 2005-2006,” said Ahmed Hussein, an international aid worker in Nairobi.