Kenya: drought leaves dead and dying animals in northen Kenya
Image by Oxfam International
Dead and dying animals at the Dambas, Arbajahan, Kenya, which has dried up due to successive years of very little rain. Africa’s climates have always been erratic but there is evidence that global warming is increasing droughts, floods and climate uncertainty and unpredictability.
Picture credit: Brendan Cox / Oxfam
Picture date: 15 January 2006
compare this photo to this one from 2011 East Africa drought/food crisis
The pastoralists who inhabit the dry lands of sub-Saharan Africa are among those who are already living with the effects of climate change. Pastoralists have been managing climate variability for millennia. However, the unprecedented rate and scale of human-induced climate change is beginning to pose more problems.
The frequent droughts in recent years have meant that households have had no opportunity to rebuild their assets, including livestock, with many becoming locked into a spiral of chronic food insecurity and poverty. Reports from the Kenya Food Security Group and from pastoralist communities show that drought-related shocks used to occur every ten years, and they are now occurring every five years or less. A pastoral association in Wajir District in Kenya reported that their animals don’t have time to recover physically from drought and can no longer withstand the dry spells.
Pastoralists are used to moving their cattle, sheep and goats to follow the regions scarce rains. But droughts are becoming never-ending. People’s way of life – that has been sustainable for many hundreds of years – is now under serious threat. Communities fear for their future.
Molu Elema from the Marsabit district said:
“We are seeing profound changes in the seasons. There is less rain, and the rainy seasons are less reliable. Since 1999 the land has hardly recovered from the dry seasons. The pasture has remained poor. The seasons seem to get worse and worse each year
“When we were young, the Gabra had a lot of animals, with many many camels. But the droughts have affected us. There are three ways you can support your family when the animals are in difficulty. If you have taken children to school, and they are lucky enough to have found jobs, that is insurance for the family. Secondly, a few herders sell camels, but they are very very few. But most Gabra depend on the third alternative, relief food – food for work, or food aid. Last month we received some relief food, and we are expecting more at any time now.
“Perhaps the gods are showing that they are angry with us. That is what the elders say.”
More at: www.oxfam.org/grow
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Like most other people, I’ve struggled at times with how to overcome fear. One thing I did not understand, which I now do, is that my fear, doubt and insecurity are not signs that I am weak. They are not my own feelings. They are evil thoughts, planted by an enemy who wants to see me defeated. As soon as I was able to see this, I was able to find the strength to fight and to win.
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