Three failed rainy seasons have left up to four million Kenyans needing food handouts and trucked-in water as the latest in a series of droughts
sweeps through the Horn of Africa.
As many as 19 million people are currently affected by the lack of rain in Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Harvests have failed in many places and food prices have increased by as much as 130 per cent.
Close to the town of Elwak in northern Kenya, water tankers arrive only every four of five days and when they appear there are fierce fights over the precious few litres given to each family.
As the drought deepens, community elders predict that further bloodshed at water delivery points is inevitable.
Already, the escalating struggle for survival between people and animals has resulted in at least two babies being snatched by starving hyaenas which prowl the perimeter of Elwak’s makeshift camps at dusk.
“My month-old baby boy was taken by hyaenas two weeks ago – somebody found his body 10 miles away from here a few days later,” Habiba Malim, 49, a former nomad, told Christian Aid researchers during a recent visit.
“The hyaenas are emaciated and attracted by the water in the open tarpaulins, so even though we light small fires to keep them away after dark, we can’t stop them altogether.” Despite a small amount of basic food supplies starting to trickle in from the UN’s World Food Program and other aid agencies, Habiba, like many others, is now only managing to eat one tiny, uncooked meal each day.
“We have very little food or clean water to drink or to cook with and I genuinely fear for my life and that of my remaining eight children.
“This is even worse than the drought we had in 2005 and if the rains don’t come soon I don’t know what will happen to us,” she added.