By Rebecca Brett & Lucy Liddle
“Crippling drought displaces millions in Horn of Africa”
“Acute Malnutrition In Kenya's Drought-Stricken Areas”
“The worst drought in 40 years”
These were just 3 of the headlines which appeared when I googled Kenya on Friday 16th December 2022.
But what do they actually mean?
According to our partners in Kenya, communities located in the Rift Valley are experiencing their 5th failed rainy season in a row. Areas which should have been abundant with grazing for livestock have remained barren. Crops which were planted in the hope of good rains are failing. And depleted water sources are reducing access to safe, clean drinking water. But it is the accumulative effect of this drought which is of most concern. Consecutive failed harvests have left farmers without the funds to plant new crops, and they are unable to borrow against their livestock as the livestock begins to die.
Evidence of the drought in Maasailand
With this loss of livelihood comes growing food insecurity, and as families are made to choose between feeding and educating their children, the right to an education lost.
Whilst this may not pose an immediate a threat like malnutrition or ill-health, a report by the World Bank has shown that girls who drop out of education are more likely to enter into early marriages, and experience teenage pregnancies and female genital mutilation (FGM). Once married, girls often are not allowed to return to education, reducing the opportunities which are available to them in later life, and continuing the cycle of poverty.
With climate change only increasing the growing instability of weather patterns being experienced across the world, by this point, you may be wondering if anything can be done.
Our partners in Kenya have already begun to employ initiative strategies for safeguarding the futures of their programmes and the communities they support. Whilst this may not be enough to tackle what has and continues to be an incredibly severe situation in Kenya, they are working hard to pre-empt future strain and suffering.
At FOCUSSA, they have planted 10,000 tree seedlings within and around their kitchen garden (shamba) to help to retain water within the swells of the planting beds. By planting drought resistant crops, they have ensured that even without heavy rains, they are able to grow food for the students and teachers at the school. By planting the crops in spirals, FOCUSSA are helping to stabilise the soil and reduce erosion.
Planting drought resistant crops at FOCUSSA
At Maasai Academy, RedTribe has already piped water to thousands of members of the local communities, using gravity to transport water from distant springs without the need for expensive pumps. COCO supported a project which pipes water to Maasai Academy’s kitchen garden and provides over 13,000 nutritious meals to its students, teachers and staff every month.
The Shamba at Maasai Academy
And in Bwayi, Niaver CBO has provided Sustainable Agriculture Training to 348 vulnerable women ensuring that, even during the current cost of living crisis in Kenya, the women have had enough food. They have also been able to help others within the community, and will be able to send their children to school when they reopen in January 2023.
Women farming shared land at Niaver
Of course, there is always more to do; more people to help, more projects to establish, more communities to reach. This drought will have a distinct impact in different areas of Kenya for months and possibly years to come. But despite what has been an incredibly difficult year in Kenya, we are immensely proud of everything our partners have achieved, and the resilience and sustainability they are helping to foster within the communities they support.
If you are in a position to support COCO and our partners please do contact us. You could help to fund sustainable agriculture training, develop further water security and support long term change for our partners.
By Rebecca Brett, MEAL Officer