Horn of Africa devastating drought brings risk of starvation to millions
By Pablo Moraga
Wayu Boro, Kenya, Sep 21 (EFE).- Amina Hageya Basia can’t help but to break into tears when she explains how the Horn of Africa’s worst drought in 40 years has affected her livelihood.
The 71-year-old Kenyan woman, like thousands in her hometown of Tana River County, has lost her primary source of income after two-thirds of her herd died of thirst.
All farmlands have turned arid and food prices have soared amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We live with many hardships. Water is scarce. Food is also scarce. And everything is getting too expensive,” says Basia, as she tries to hide her true emotions with a smile.
Hit hard by the devastating drought, dozens of women, children and elderly people with walking canes are gathered in the vicinity of a United Nations World Food Program (WFP)-supported hospital in Wayu Boro town.
Health centers in Kenya are currently overcrowded, according to the East African nation’s authorities.
The drought is intensifying in 23 of Kenya’s 47 counties, where 942,000 children under five suffering from acute malnutrition are in urgent need of medical care, the National Drought Management Authority said on Friday.
Acute malnutrition is a hunger-induced condition that weakens the immune system and places those who have it at risk of contracting other diseases, as well as dying. It can also impact children’s physical and brain development if not treated in time.
The drought has completely altered Tana River County, leaving it covered in thorny and grey bushes and large dusty clouds from vehicles.
Boltu Abarufa, a five-meter-deep lake built by European Union funds that used to provide water for thousands of livestock, has dried up for the first time, leaving herdsmen desperate.
Some of them have dug 10-meter-deep wells with their bare hands to find water for their animals, but the weather forecasts are not encouraging.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), it will rain less than usual during the upcoming rainy season from October to November, pushing 50 million people in seven East African countries into extreme food security.
In Somalia, millions are at risk of famine.
Hundreds of children have already died there, although it is difficult to confirm a figure since the vast majority die before reaching health centers.
The WPF pointed out this month that at least two Somali regions will face famine between October and December this year if the situation remains the same, which will see two in every 10,000 people die every day.
Basia, who has lived her whole life in Tana River, cannot remember a drought as severe as this one.
“It used to rain more often. Families had a lot of milk. But now all of us are experiencing many difficulties. There are fewer and fewer cows and goats, while the price of food is rising. Everything is changing,” the woman decries. EFE