Kenya, the story of mother Josephine: “Drought kills my children”

Bend down from hunger and now also from thirst. Throughout the Horn of Africa – Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia) 20 million people may face high levels of acute food insecurity in September, due to an unusually persistent drought. Water shortages have a major impact on farmers ‘and shepherds’ livelihoods: this situation, which has led toreduction of food production and millions of cattle deaths.

In Kenya 27% of the population suffers from hunger and thirst. The situation was already very critical – between armed conflicts between clans, the health and economic consequences of the pandemic and the effects of climate change – and the war in Ukraine further aggravates the picture. Drought is one of the worst in recent decades: the rain did not fall for four consecutive seasons and it could continue to fail even from October to December. The drought decimated crops and caused a large death among livestock (over 1.5 million dead), which remains the main livelihood for families.

Josephine Muli is 45 years old and the mother of 9 children. Every week he goes over 2 hours road to visit his last son of just over a year, severely malnourished. He has been under treatment for several months: In addition to giving him plumpynut, he is regularly weighed and measured in growth by medical staff. Josephine could immediately realize that there was something wrong with her son’s growth and turn to experienced staff who could take care of him. Many mothers here, on the other hand, consider their children’s thin and slow growth to be normal, as well as diarrhea and vomiting, which do not allow them to accumulate any nutrient that is essential for healthy and balanced growth, and turn to maternal health centers. childhood too late when the malnutrition condition has become too severe, with the risk of fatal consequences for children.

“I was married, though my husband died last year, leaves me alone with the children, almost all of whom go to school ”, the woman explains to the CESVI Foundation, which to support the population has activated agricultural and pastoral development projects and for maternal and child health. Her husband was killed by armed gangs that also stole all domestic animals, and thus Josephine left not only alone with so many children to raise and without anything to eat: their diet depended entirely on domestic animals. “Since last year we have experienced a severe drought, we have had very little rain in the village, the men with the cattle have not yet returned, they have also taken the animals from the neighbors, from whom we occasionally got milk. There is nothing for us right now. “

Josephine has a small shop where she sells school supplies for a few school children and candy. But “my business has also gotten worse because of Covid. My store no longer worked as it once did and we had several problems: hunger is so high, finding food is a problem and sometimes we go to bed after eating little or nothing. There is nowhere to get food if we need it. As for my children’s tuition fees, it is very difficult to find money to pay them. That is why I am part of a savings and loan group in the village. Sometimes I borrow money to pay the kids’ taxes, sometimes to support my store in trouble. But the drought continues and there is not enough food in our society To everyone”.

“The only possible solution to deal with the emergency in the Horn of Africa is to return to local agriculture, recycle native methods that are better adapted to climate change»Says Valeria Emmi, Advocacy and Networking Senior Specialist by CESVI. “The dependence on one / two food-producing countries, which is so fundamental to the food chain, must be stopped and the disadvantaged countries must be helped to implement cultivation systems. Even if the war in Ukraine ends, it will not be able to solve the dramatic escalation that began in 2020 ”.

In Kenya, CESVI also collaborates with agro-pastoral communities and public authorities by promoting projects related to agricultural development and the provision of tools and models for the management of natural resources. It especially supports small livestock and poultry farmers so they can get eggs and meat to feed themselves. Inside the village of Nasuroi, he also built a well that allows the people to get clean water to quench their thirst, also useful for the survival of the animals.

In Kenya, over 940,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition. Lack of food and water often affects children even before birth and in the first months of life: As many as 134,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women are severely malnourished.

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