A DRIVE THROUGH GARISSA TOWN deep into Lagdera and Balambala engulfs you in a sense of despondency. Acres of land filled with nothing but dying shrubs and dried dams stretch beyond what the eye can see. As the wind blows, giving you a reprieve from the heat and scorching sun, it carries with it a blanket of dust and sand. A clear indication of how bad the drought has become.

The villages are littered with rotten carcasses and dried bones from animals that used to reflect a community’s identity. Homesteads that were once full of life, have been reduced to chunks of bare land and abandoned makeshift homes. Families that once sat together for a meal are missing a father. The men have been forced to leave their families behind, seeking pasture to save the remaining animals.

This is the reality of life for thousands of people living in communities across Northern Kenya. Desperation has slowly crept in as they struggle to survive and hold on to hope, for a future that seems so bleak.
“We have not seen a drop of rain, in two years,” says Ebla Ali, who has lived in Balambala for 15 years. “We have never experienced anything like this, our animals have died and even water for drinking has become difficult to get.”

Her children no longer go to school in the afternoon as they have to fetch water from a lager in a dried riverbed close to her home. She wants them to study and to attend school, but the choice is bleak: survival today or her children’s future. “We have to choose between school or dying from lack of water.”

Ebla’s story is not unique, she represents thousands of women living in Garissa who are forced to make the same heartbreaking decision every day. How does a mother give hope to her children, when she has just watched the last of their goats succumb to starvation?

Ebla may have run out of hope, but she and many mothers across Northern Kenya remain resilient. A little boost has sparked their hope and is helping them navigate this difficult time.

Over the past few months, FCA Kenya has supported over 600 homesteads in Garissa and Marsabit County through cash transfers of 63 euros, equivalent to about KES. 7,600 – 7,800. This has enabled families to buy food, water, and some, school supplies for their children. The first cycle ran from May to July of 2022, and the second cycle in August, expected to run until the end of the year.
To ease the communities water storage problem, we mobilized individual Kenyans and local corporations, through our local fundraising initiative #TogetherforGarissa to support the distribution of water storage equipment to households. We partnered with UNICEF, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa and a few Kenyans of goodwill who have supported us to distribute over 5,600 20-litre jerrycans and 3,600 buckets to families in Garissa and Marsabit County.

Women fetching water from a makeshift shallow well. Photo by Kevin Ochieng

While the jerrycans ensure the communities can store clean water for drinking and household use, there’s a need to distribute water tanks to ensure the water is accessed hygienically.

The power of ubuntu cannot be overemphasized. Every support, no matter how small, is invaluable. It has taken concerted effort and support from Kenyans of goodwill for us to reach over 70,000 lives. Imagine how much more could be done if each of us gave a little.

When we support, we are not only giving access to water, but we are also giving drops of hope that are restoring the dignity and livelihood of communities. We are transforming the lives of a generation that needs to be in school, to find the means of breaking the cycle of poverty that plagues their environment.

Hopefully, the coming of the short rains signifies a new dawn and the end of the drought. That it washes away the dry bones, prepares the ground to nurture new life, and restores laughter in the homesteads.

Until then, please help us reach 100,000 people by donating to:

M-pesa Paybill:4086125

Account Name: Finn Church Aid Kenya

Your help matters. Your donation counts.

Text: Faith Inyanchi