As Drought Bears Down on Northern Kenya, Millions Face Hunger

Dead and dying animals in northern Kenya during a severe drought in 2006.

Dead and dying animals in northern Kenya during a severe drought in 2006. Oxfam International

For the second consecutive year, Kenya’s semi-arid north has experienced meager rainfall, causing a drought that threatens the food supply of 2.4 million people, according to the United Nations World Food Programme, Reuters reported.

“Goats are unsellable, cows are even worse to sell and our children are starving,” Moses Loloju, a herder from Isiolo county, told Reuters.

The north has received just 25 to 50 percent as much rainfall as is typical, with no relief in sight. The Kenya Meteorological Department expects the region to see below-average rainfall this month, Reuters reported.

“The few remaining animals have nothing to graze, they can’t reach water points since they have grown weak,” Bargeri, a herder, told Reuters. Some herders in his home county have walked 40 kilometers to find water, according to the Kenya government.

Temperatures in northern Kenya have risen 0.34 degrees C (.6 F) per decade since 1985, according to U.S government data, fueling more severe drought. As temperatures continue to increase, droughts are expected to grow more frequent and severe.

“The past droughts were largely predictable,” Maurice Onyango, regional head for disaster risk management at Plan International, told Reuters. “We had longer cycles of 5 to 10 years (between them). And this meant that the pasture and water bodies would regenerate very quickly. Now we are seeing droughts coming every two years, sometimes every year.”