Northern Kenya has been blighted by the devastating drought sweeping the Horn of Africa. Our special correspondents visited the village of Kaikor, where 12 people have died of starvation in the past two weeks.
While much of the international attention on the East African food crisis has centred around the war-torn country of Somalia and the Somali refugee camps in Kenya, the northern region of Kenya is also suffering from a severe drought. One of the most remote and marginalised areas of the country, the region’s proximity to the conflict-riddled border has exacerbated the food crisis forcing people to move from fertile, but insecure areas to areas that are infertile but relatively safe.
“My wife died of hunger four days ago,” 75-year-old Nakawawi tells us. “Her limbs became very tired. We were starving and there was no medical aid.” Nakawawi himself has not eaten for three days, but each morning, he walks though the crippling heat to his wife’s grave, in order to perform a greeting ritual.
Droughts are common in this region, but over the past decade they have become much more frequent. With the current drought, one of the worst in recent times, the region’s crops and livestock have all but disappeared, leaving some 12 million people with nothing to eat.
No time for politics
The UN has declared three areas in southern Somalia, which are controlled by the al Shabaab militia, famine zones. But even as an international aid mission is underway in the region, the villagers of Kaikor say they have barely received any humanitarian aid. John Munyes, the Kenyan labour minister and a parliamentarian from the region, has come to the area and is already pointing the finger of blame at others within the government.
Animated on stage and portly, Munyes looks nothing like the residents, who listen to his speech in the village square “We can do that [solve the famine problem] in our own budget as a government,” he tells us. “Kenyans will be very happy to see the Kenyan budget go for the poor, the starving, that they [the government] do not misallocate the money”.
The villagers listen to their MP indignantly. With 12 people already dead and little aid on the arrival, a political blame game is not what they were hoping for.
Date created : 2011-08-11