A photo in today’s New York Times with an accompanying article shows a pained, elderly woman in the Turkana region of Kenya. Too weak and sick to feed or drink herself, water is being poured into her mouth from a red canteen. Her face is filled with desperation.
“A devastating drought is sweeping across Kenya, killing livestock, crops and children,” reports the New York Times. It is stirring up tensions in slums in the Turkana region where water taps have run dry, and catalyzing ethnic conflict as communities fight over the last remaining pieces of fertile grazing land. What’s more is that some of Kenya’s government officials have been implicated in a scandal to illegally sell off thousands of tons of the nation’s grain reserves just as a famine was imminent.
Although Kenya has a strong economy and is considered to be one of the most developed countries in Africa, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports that more than 17 million people in East Africa experience serious food insecurity due to the combined effects of below-average harvests, high food prices and conflict.
Since May, AJWS has provided emergency grants to five grassroots partners to respond to the food crisis in Kenya and northern Uganda. In Kenya, AJWS grantees Northern Aid and Wahanda Women Development Group are providing emergency food aid to vulnerable households, including IDPs; Arid Lands Development Focus is working to reduce the impact of drought by capping wells, constructing water troughs and reservoirs and distributing water in pastoral communities.