Providing Food, Preventing Violence: The Impact of Drought Relief in Northeastern Kenya

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been keeping you updated on our response to the famine in East Africa. The situation remains dire, but we’re beginning to see the positive impact of some of our partners.

Take, for example, AJWS’s long-time partner Northern Aid (NAID)—an organization that has been implementing relief, rehabilitation and development initiatives in northeastern Kenya since 1995. Through an innovative, locally-sourced food distribution program, (NAID) is providing direct assistance to marginalized pastoralist communities and vulnerable female-headed households in northern Kenya. NAID is buying goats and cows that will not survive the drought, slaughtering the animals, and distributing the meat to over 10,000 vulnerable households. This is providing a livelihood to pastoralists whose entire herds will likely be wiped out by the drought, preventing livestock prices from completely bottoming out, and supplying much-needed income to pastoralists so they can support their families. NAID’s efforts are also delivering food to women and children and supporting at least 800 female headed households with animal feed to ensure that their remaining animals do not die from the drought and can provide a steady supply of milk.

In addition to providing food and livelihood aid, NAID’s projects are likely to decrease sexual and gender-based violence against women. Our partners have reported that in northeastern Kenya, cases of sexual and gender-based violence have increased by over 100% in the past three months. Women walk up to 20 miles per day—often alone—to fetch water for household use. During drought conditions, they are forced to walk even further because they are competing for increasingly scarce resources. Countless women have been raped, beaten up, and even killed on these journeys. NAID is reducing the number of livestock at water sources, thereby limiting the distance women need to walk, which diminishes their chances of experiencing violence.

Progress in Kenya and elsewhere in East Africa will take years to measure and sustain. But NAID’s work is already making a significant difference for people in some of the most vulnerable and under-served communities.