August 12, 2011

Rain only part of the solution for East Africa drought

By |12 August 2011|

Caritas Internationalis humanitarian director Alistair Dutton explains why Caritas has a big focus on harvesting and storing water in drought-hit East Africa.  The simple answer to a drought should be for it to rain lots. The crops would grow, the animals would get fed and people would know where their next meal and drink would be coming from. People are desperate for rain in East Africa where up to 13 million people need emergency assistance because of one of the worst droughts in 60 years. But it’s not the simple solution it seems. Alistair Dutton, humanitarian director for Caritas Internationalis has just returned from a trip to Ethiopia and Kenya. He met with Caritas member organisations working in these countries to discuss the best short- and long-term answers to the devastating hunger crisis caused by the drought. “We went to a village and scores of people were sitting under trees. They had gathered [...]

Caritas dam protects Kenyans against drought

By |8 August 2011|

By David Snyder  As if the cracked earthen floor of the Kwa Kivanga dam is not reminder enough of the drought gripping Kenya, the long waits for water make memories of last year’s plenty that much more painful. Just one year ago, this pond in Kenya’s drought-stricken Eastern Province helped feed a nearby borehole with so much clean water that local residents could fetch all they could carry – a memory local resident Daniel Motiso cannot help but smile at now. “We had a pump but it wasn’t producing much water. We could only get one jerry can each day because we limited the water,” Motiso said of the days before the dam was built. “After the dam we could get four cans.” Built by Caritas Kenya as part of the Katangi Food Security Project in 2008, the Kwa Kivanga dam has been a huge success. Here in the village of Kalele [...]

Caritas project brings water to drought-stricken community in Ethiopia

By |3 August 2011|

By David Snyder  His thinning white hair dyed orange in the traditional local style, Aden Esse Kan stands amid the swirling dust clouds of eastern Ethiopia, eager to talk about the drought that now plagues this region. An elder in the village of Togo Wuchale, a dusty half hour drive from the town of Jijiga, Kan summarises the problems facing his community, “The drought affects us in two ways – our people and our livestock,” Kan said. “There is no rain at all so we don’t have anything to eat.” Today across much of Ethiopia, where as many as 11 million people are in need of food aid, that is a distressingly common refrain. For traditional pastoralists like those from the Jijiga region, just sixty kilometers from the border with Somalia, the drought has devastated local grazing land, forcing many in the village of Togo Wuchale to drive their thinning herds further [...]

July 28, 2011

Hunger in Kenya and how to stop it

By |28 July 2011|

The land is barren, the animals are dead, the people are starving. This is one face of northern Kenya in July 2011. “The famine started last year,” says Ellela from the village of Lokitaung. “There were no rains last year or this year. We have had drought for two years. If there are no people with the good heart to help us we will die.” On a recent trip to Kenya, Eoghan Rice from Trócaire (Caritas Ireland) reported seeing malnourished children waiting at clinics for emergency treatment, adults who were just skin and bone and the carcasses of livestock littering the scorched and lifeless ground. “I have not had a proper meal in seven days,” said Locheramoe Kuwom. “I had nothing yesterday except for tea. The day before I had a bit of palm fruit. There is a lot of hunger here. If this situation goes on, most of the people who [...]

Drought in East Africa: Kenya’s cattle dying

By |12 July 2011|

The rolling mountains in the distance are known locally as Louwa Le Ukinchu, or Cattle Mountains. For generations, people have travelled there to find water and pasture for their animals. But today, the streams that run down Cattle Mountains are dry. Most families in Isiolo, 300 kilometres north of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, are pastoralists: they rely on cattle, goats, sheep, donkeys and camels to make a living. These animals aren’t simply a source of food and milk – they’re living banks, the main assets that people own. When their animals die, as they’ve been doing at an alarming rate, pastoralists don’t have the means to feed their families. The devastating drought that’s hit large parts of northern Kenya has forced pastoralists near Cattle Mountains to travel further than ever before in search of water and pasture to keep their animals alive. The effects are visible in the expansive dry scrublands: [...]

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