Written by William A.Twayigize
Turkana, Kenya: Hunger, drought, and illiteracy have characterized the lives of the Turkana residents from time immemorial. As in most parts of Northeastern Kenya, hunger continues to devastate the residents of Turkana County. Although other parts of the country continue to receive rain, Turkana continues to experience drought, which affect every life of Turkana such as food supply, education, cattle rustling, and inter-ethnic conflict.
Elderly people, children, and women are the ones who are mostly affected by lack of rain. You meet people have not fed on anything in almost a month. These people look frail and sickly, and emaciated and can hardly find strength to fend for themselves as their government do little or absolutely nothing to stop the situation by providing relief food and irrigation projects so that people and animals can find water.
When you visit Turkana and other parts of Northeastern Kenya you find starving people chewing some herbs to distract their mind from the hunger pangs. Many people in Turkana use this as a last resort therapy to keep their hungry going, especially the aged, breastfeeding mothers, and children as they wait upon the Heavens to send good Samaritans such as Red Cross and other well-wishers to give them food.
Problem with drinking water
According to the Turkana County Rapid Food Security Assessment Report by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), the region of Turkana has more than 346,000 residents who urgently need water and food. If the Kenyan government does not do anything about it, people will continue losing their lives to hunger. Turkana residents trek more than 20 kilometers (16 miles) in search of water and food. Many people lose their lives to ferocious animals such hyena and leopard while on their way back home from fetching water at night.
According to the County Drought Co-coordinator Julius Tagging, “the situation is worsening as malnourished patients both children and adults continue to flock health centers in Turkana suffering from diseases which could easily be treated. Bwana Peter Ekai, the Turkana deputy governor says the situation now should be declared a county emergency intervention. “We do n in order to avoid repeating past scenarios where many people lost their lives due to government negligence.
Due to poor management of natural resources and lack of expertise in managing water or harvesting the rare rains that the region experience, previous years did not help much leading to poor crop produce even as most water sources continue to dry up from prolonged use. ANREMI is hoping that when resources are available, we will provide expertise to the people of Turkana, especially the current county government on how to harvest and manage the little water that the region experience. ANREMI also wants to work with other development partners to manage the newly discovered underground fresh water wells in order to safe todays life and future Turkanans.
This will save the Turkana communities from continuing to live in fear of perennial hunger and conflict between the Turkana and Toposa, Merille and Nyangatom of Ethiopia due to competition over water and other limited resources such as grazing land and food.
It is ironic that families that came to live near the area surrounding the recently discovered 207 billion cubic fresh aquifer in Lokitipi plains continue to languish in hunger as it remains deserted by both international investor’s and government activities forcing the thirsty residents to spend much of their time along roads begging for water from travelers. ANREMI hopes that once the resources are available we can solve this problem once for all so that our people in Turkana enjoy normal life as we educate them on how to effectively manage their newly discovered aquifer.
ANREMI strategies are to use photovoltaic energy which is available in plenty in most parts of Africa, especially in Northeastern Kenya such as Turkana to provide the resident of Turkana access to fresh waters and irrigation possibilities. This will allow them become self-sufficient in food provision and healthy living. Though the Turkana region has recently discovered Oil thee people of Turkana have enough solar to provide them with clean and sustainable energy to make their lives much better. We hope to continue educating them on effective ways of managing their resources to improve their living conditions without depending solely on government and external support to ensure their children inherit a bright future.