The impact of recurrent drought in Wajir County has affected the vulnerable population resulting in food insecurity and malnutrition. For the last few years, Wajir County has experienced low rainfall with an increased dry season. The consequences have resulted in serious impact to people’s livelihood: agriculture and livestock, the two main sources of income in the rural communities.
In June 2021, Wajir Governor Ahmed Ali Mukatr called for an intervention of government and non-governmental entities in mobilization of resources in order to reduce the impact of drought that was projected to become severe in July 2021 (Drought Early Warning Bulletin, NDMA, March 2021).
With the onset of the current drought crisis in Kenya’s ASAL counties, CADIS Kenya in collaboration with CADIS International has conducted a drought need assessment between the 18th – 23rd of October 2021 with the aim to assess the impact that the current drought has caused to the community.
The assessment was conducted in two sub-counties of Wajir namely Wajir East and Wajir West, for a total of 8 villages: Alimaow, Bura Hagar, Qahira, Arba Qeyramso, Elnul, Tulatula, Eldas and Arbakheramso. The method used for the assessment included three focus group discussions, 30 household questionnaires administered, 3 in-depth interviews, 3 meetings with local leaders and the secondary data collection.
Gaps were identified in four different areas: food, livelihood, water and sanitation and health.
Food: Normally, the majority of the households consume 3 meals per day. According to the survey, due to the drought, 73% of respondents take only one meal per day, and out of that, 93% have missed meals for lack of money to buy food. Most of the people have lost weight due to lack of proper diet and enough food. The vulnerable population comprising children, lactating mothers, the aged and the sick are the most affected category of people.
Livelihood: The main source of income for the people of Wajir county is mainly livestock, including goats, camels, cows; others practice crop production. Many households have lost all or some of their livestock due to the drought. The farms are dry and cannot be cultivated due to lack of water and dry conditions. The remaining livestock are so thin and weak and their prices have gone so low; it is even harder to see the livestock market being operational. As a result, animals cannot produce milk and the women who used to have small businesses selling milk can no longer sustain themselves.
Water and sanitation: For the last 2 or 3 years, it has not rained in Wajir, leading to a dry season that has seen even the underground water continue to dry up. The sources of water in Wajir include few boreholes, hand dug shallow wells, and rain water. The existing underground water is mostly saline and not healthy for consumption. With the onset of drought, the amount of water available for both human consumption and livestock is too low. Most of the people currently are using water trucking and they are moving long distances in order to access the water at a distance of approximately 30 kilometers.
Health: Lack of water is a threat both for humans and animals. The dead animals can be a serious danger of a disease outbreak. However, some locals have resorted to burning the dead animals to prevent disease contracting. In the assessed locations, there are no good waste disposal and proper latrine services. 87% of the respondents have reported instances of dehydration, body weaknesses and loss of weight during the period of drought. Many people have also contracted flu and cold, not related to Covid-19 virus. With the massive loss of animals and livelihood, the mental health of the locals has been affected. In fact, 93% of the respondents said the drought has brought distress to them, 83% have reported change in their sleep patterns and 80% of those who have lost their livelihood reported panic attacks. Moreover, 50% of the respondents have been migrating to neighboring borders to look for food, especially for their animals. This is a risky decision because the areas to which they migrate are experiencing conflicts. It is also affecting family unity and the other members of the households are left with fear and anxiety.
Beside the drought, Wajir County is still facing the effects of Covid-19 and the current vaccination campaign is still not bearing much fruit. The resources at the moment are not sufficient to equally fight the pandemic as well as respond to the disaster.
The national government and the county government of Wajir, as well as NGOs, have been trying to distribute food and water in some areas of Wajir County, although the request for basic needs is still high.
CADIS Kenya aims to bring relief with short-term intervention such as:
- scaling up existing food security and livelihood interventions,
- carrying out emergency water trucking and provision of clean water to families and households, and
- provide food supplements and psycho-social assistance.
Later on, long-term intervention will include:
- Food Security program: supporting food security in the region through farming techniques
- Water and Sanitation: provision of clean water for domestic use and irrigation and the construction of eco-toilets
- Health Program: Mobile clinics
Different stakeholders joined together to ensure a successful need assessment in Wajir county. CADIS Kenya under the Servants of the Sick (Camillians) in Kenya wish to thank the central office of the Camillian Disaster Service International (CADIS) led by Fr. Aris Miranda. Sincere appreciation also goes to the Camillians Kenyan delegation under the leadership of Fr. Dominic Mwanzia for his internal support, encouragement and also offering a conducive environment to ensure a smooth running of the activities. The Camillian Sisters in Wajir too are much appreciated. They provided not only hospitality and support but also human resources in aiding the assessment activity.
We also acknowledge the office of the County Commissioner of Wajir, the officers in the office of County Commissioner, the Division Officer (D.O1), Administration Officer (A.O1), all the chiefs in Wajir East and West for their collaboration and the entire Wajir community. For all those who supported and will support us in one way or the other may GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
Fr Francis Maina, MI
CADIS Kenya Coordinator