They can only wait and hope for rain


THE PEO­PLE in Man­dera county, an area in the far north-east of the coun­try which bor­ders Ethiopia and So­ma­lia, have been among the hard­est hit by the drought blight­ing the re­gion.

Ac­cess to food and wa­ter has be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult, caus­ing enor­mous prob­lems for both the vil­lagers and their live­stock.

World Jewish Re­lief has teamed up with an NGO called Racida (Ru­ral Agency for Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment and As­sis­tance) to pro­vide sup­plies of wa­ter. The money raised by the UK Jewish com­mu­nity is pay­ing for the trucks to trans­port wa­ter.

Women and chil­dren in the vil­lage of Malka­ruqa crowd round as a truck pulls up and the fresh wa­ter is trans­ferred into empty tanks. There are 361 house­holds in Malka­ruqa, each with around six to eight fam­ily mem­bers. The com­mu­nity has four wa­ter tanks, although only one is func­tion­ing. There is also an earth-pan which col­lects rain-wa­ter for peo­ple to drink and give to their live­stock. In nor­mal weather the tanks and the earth pan sup­ply the com­mu­nity with enough wa­ter for up to four months, which gets them through the dry sea­son un­til the rains come again.

How­ever, the rains didn’t come this year and the tanks and earth pan are com­pletely empty. The com­mu­nity has been left with no wa­ter and no ac­cess to food and, as their crops fail and their an­i­mals die, they are watch­ing their liveli­hoods dis­ap­pear.

Hal­ima Mo­hamed Salat, a young mother of six, has been trav­el­ling to Hu­low, a town 13km away to col­lect just 20 litres of wa­ter. She had to hire a don­key cart to make the jour­ney.

Even with the aid, Hal­ima and her chil­dren still have only one meal a day, con­sist­ing of rice or maize. As her goats are no longer pro­duc­ing milk, she and her fam­ily are forced to ex­ist on black tea. Hal­ima said: “We can only wait for the rain and hope that there will be enough pas­ture for the an­i­mals so there will be milk for us. In the mean­time, I only wish you keep sav­ing our lives.”

Mireille Flores (left) is a WJR aid worker

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