The severe drought being witnessed in northern Kenya has left many men, women, and children with no food, water, or pasture. Children, in particular, have been exposed to exploitation risks. They are dropping out of school due to malnutrition, lack of school fees, and in some cases, they are being forced to help with the time-consuming search for pasture and water in far areas for survival.
Mr.Dida’s family is one of the families that are in dire need of emergency assistance. We have embarked on a journey to save his life and his livelihood as well as save that of many others affected by the drought.
Mr. Dida Buke Galgallo, 66, is a family man with 2 wives and 16 children. He lives in Kukub, a village about 65 kilometers from Moyale, a town in Kenya.
“I was born in Butiye, Moyale. I grew up herding livestock among other chores as a child. Growing up, I adopted pastoralism as a way of life and moved to Amballo with my livestock as there was more than enough rangeland to graze them. “Dida explains.
In the early 2000’s, we experienced severe drought that lasted close to a year with devastating effects. Many people had their livestock herd wiped out completely and I once again moved to Sololo in search of grazing lands. These movements usually had an impact on our children because most of the time they were left behind in the hands of relatives as parents migrated and they were left exposed to abuse or they accompanied their parents in this migration thus dropping out of school. Eventually, when my children grew up, I decided to settle at Kukub as it was easy for them to enroll in the school from here quickly.``
“Before the prolonged drought, I owned about 40 cattle. They have since been reduced to 14, the rest have all died. Just the other day, two of them succumbed to the drought. Kukub residents had so many cows they would fill the road to Moyale.” He narrates.
Mr. Dida narrates that Kukub has several children that have finished school but have not managed to secure a job in the private or public sector. According to him, this makes the situation more difficult because they cannot support their parents in providing for basic needs. He also says that most of them have adopted peer pressure, indulged in drug use, and since become unproductive members of society. Through parental guidance, he has brought up his children in the best way possible in this harsh environment and luckily, none of them has been involved in any negative behaviors.
“We migrated to Kukub because it is near the road to Moyale. Before the drought, we would milk our cows and sell the produce on the road. Sometimes we would give them to transit vehicles heading towards Moyale town, and in the evening, around 4 pm, we would wait for the vehicles to pass by again and collect cash from the sales or food items we would send for from the profits we would make. The income depended on the number of livestock that are producing milk of which on average I would fetch an average of 53.72 Euros per month. We did not depend on anyone to come to our aid when there was no drought. We raised our children with our livestock. We would even sell our cows to Moyale town and use the money to pay for their school fees. Now and then…I would compare it to when someone was in heaven…and now in hell.”
“Early this year when the long rains failed following the failure of the two previous seasons, our livestock succumbed to the drought effects. Our situations worsened, and it became nearly impossible for me to raise all 16 of my children. I sent two of them to Ethiopia, and they live with their grandmother, who acts as their caretaker. One is in class 7, and the other just joined university. I hope he studies well. I would wish for him to be successful in life.”
Mr. Dida explains that he has immense fear that the drought will reach such a point that it will come to claim people's lives.
Mr. Dida is relieved that Strategies for Northern Development (SND) has come to their aid. SND started a child protection in emergency project funded by the Terres des Hommes Germany in February 2022 which was followed by Terre des Hommes Netherlands DRA project in July running for a period of 5 months. He firmly believes that if God does not cause it to pour rain soon, hunger will claim people's lives in Kukub. He states that some people have not lit fires in their homes for more than two days. By this, he means that some people have not cooked or prepared food when the drought hit them.
Mr. Dida says that the situation was desperate. When community members saw someone alighting from a vehicle with a bag of maize flour, people would run towards him/her and beg for a portion. Some would say that their children have not eaten for two days. “In this village, we are not selfish; we do not refuse to offer assistance to one in need. The only one who can salvage us from this kind of life is God.” He says.
Luckily, Mr. Dida received cash transfers from the project that has enabled him to buy food and pay for school fees. “I received approximately 74 Euros from SND. The money has helped us in so many ways; I have since been able to comfortably buy food for my family and pay their school fees in small installments. I cannot allow them to be sent away from school. I want them to study.” he says
“If you come and observe the atmosphere at Kukub when the disbursement date arrives, you will find people screaming in joy - The money has been sent! The money has been sent! “When that happens, everyone scrolls through their phones to confirm this, and so do I. I received the first cash tranche on 31st August 2022 and will continue getting the cash support for the next 4 months.”
“When your children have something to eat, as a parent, you feel happy. But when they are starving, you feel terrible, and it gets to you as a parent; it is not an easy thing. Today, my family can afford at least 2 meals a day. I am happier now; my children are comfortable and can stay in school without worrying about being chased away because of school fees.” he says.
“In my village, this project is supporting 100 households with approximately 600 beneficiaries. To sum it all up, my life has since improved. Personally, if I can feed my family and ensure that my children are in school, that is enough for me! I am happy with that. I want to thank SND and the donors that have facilitated aid, as a village, we are truly grateful!.” he concludes.
In response to the drought emergency, we are implementing the ‘Joint Drought Response’ project aimed at directly supporting 4,197 people (2,840 children). We will provide Multi-purpose Cash Assistance (MPC) and Livelihood protection (livestock feeds) to the most vulnerable and at-risk families with a focus on households with malnourished children and those facing protection risks to meet their immediate food and protection needs. With your support, we can save the lives of many other vulnerable families.