The past few months, the weather has been harsh on the Kenyan soil. Should this forecast, historical trends indicate that food security outcomes could rapidly worsen. Humanitarians should prepare for an increase in need throughout 2019.
One Ocheli Lemuu lies inside her small hut at Kamekui Village in Turkana Central, too weak to stand, too frail to even speak. Her eyes are sunken, her face, in its ashen dread, the personification of a haunting distress.
Alone in the small hut, and with nothing to eat, she surveys the nothingness outside, hoping for something to eat. She has done this for the last three days, and the results of her feeble, dart-eyed forays from the relative comfort of her mud hut have been the same: nothing.
At 60, Lemuu cannot go out to look for food, and last week, hunger took a toll on her, so she decided to just stay inside her manyatta and hope that food will somehow find her. “I am not sick,” she says, through an interpreter, soon after she was fed. “I am just hungry.” Her five children are also staring death in the eye, while her husband died years ago.
She has just been sleeping inside there for days. She is so hungry but we cannot give her anything because we have nothing. We have not eaten for days.” At the nearby Nachoto Village, a frail Naupe Akolom rests under a shade, staring at the white sand covering hundreds of acres of barren land around her.
Like Lemuu, she, too, has not eaten for days. The last time she swallowed something solid was when the area Member of County Assembly brought her some cereals a week ago. Now she survives on water.
A few hundreds of kilometres away, in Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia counties, farmers are drowning in maize, and have for months been literally begging the government to buy the stock, illustrating how mismanagement of resources in one end of the country is affecting those who live elsewhere.
Also, the hunger pangs of Turkana are not unexpected, because as early as last December, a US-funded food security monitoring network warned that dry conditions in parts of Kenya were likely to result in significantly smaller harvests in the first few months of this year.
“Crop production in Somalia and Kenya is expected to be at least 30 per cent below average, and pasture and water availability is likely to be well below average throughout the region,” the East Africa alert issued by the Famine Early Warning System noted.