By Pedro Alonso
Malindi, Kenya, Oct 15 (EFE).- Hardly a drop of rain has fallen in northern and coastal Kenya over the last year amid a fierce drought that has deprived two million people of food and water and killed thousands of farm animals.
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta last month called the drought a “national disaster” and ordered the treasury to free up 2 billion Kenyan shillings ($18 million) to purchase emergency food aid for the affected communities.
The drought, which followed a drier than expected rainy season between March and May 2021, is most acute in the northern regions of Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera and Wajir, central Samburu and Isiolo, eastern Garissa and coastal Tana River, Kilifi and Lamu.
“We are experiencing a disaster, a drought disaster, in the coastal province,” Hassan Musa, Red Cross branch coordinator in the region, whose office is based in Malindi, a popular beachside tourist destination, tells Efe.
Over 400,000 people are facing water shortages in coastal areas. But it’s not just humans suffering due to drought, Musa said.
“We have so far lost more than 6,500 heads of livestock in Kilifi and 4,000 more in Tana River,” he specified.
Farmer Naomi Kaingu Ngolo from the coastal Kilifi region has watched ponds used by humans and animals for drinking water dry up.
“We bring our cows here to take water. Currently, most of the livestock has died of hunger,” Ngolo tells Efe.
Many locals in the region live in simple mud huts. The landscape has become more arid during the drought, which has killed trees and is threatening the cassava plantations.