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Battling Drought, Death and Despair
(10 March 2006)
Abdul Qadir buries another of his animals
The plight of herdsmen as their animals die in the drought
Abdul Qadir’s face is drawn with fear and despair. At his feet lies one of his sheep – it is dead. He has lost over 70 of his herd and he fears the rest will die in the next few days.

Each morning, as the sun beats down on the cracked dry lands of Mandera in northern Kenya, he goes out to tend his livestock, increasingly finding a dwindling herd.

“I expect that they will all die this week – they do not have any food or water. We are feeding the animals grass but it is not enough,” he said.

Eleven children live in Abdul Qadir’s small straw hut in Bullokon village. His wife is heavily pregnant and in temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius the entire family is feeling the effects of the drought.
 
“The children are suffering. Some of them are ill because of hunger. My youngest baby cried last night from hunger – she is one year and seven months old.”

“Our life is poor – in the house there is nothing to eat. I have 11 children to look after but I can only take food for three.”

The severe shortage of water has finally taken its toll on this family who managed to pull through the early period of the drought.

“Before our life was normal. We were getting milk from our goats. They do not give milk any more because of the drought – they are weak,” he explains.

“For the last two seasons we did not get anything because of no rain – animals are dying and people are dying from hunger and drought.”

Abdul Qadir is an internal refugee and his living conditions are poor. Every morning he walks to the nearest shallow well to fetch water. The shallow well is no longer shallow - it is now 80 ft deep as people dig down to find precious water.

“We are eating maize or anything that we can get because a poor man has no choice. For water we have to go to the shallow well. We go every morning and I bring back 80 litres per day for drinking, bathing, wudhu and for the family,” he said.

No Water

However, the water is not enough for his animals which also need pasture to survive. In the heat of the dry barren land they grow weaker day by day.

Abdul Qadir is not alone in his suffering; every other family in Bullokon village faces the same desperate situation.

“The people in this village are weak from drought and hunger, they are in the same state as my family. The situation is very dangerous, people’s hopes are very low because we do not know whether we will get rain or not,” he said.

Yet despite the crisis Abdul Qadir clings on to hope for the future. “I want to ask Allah to help us to get out of this problem and, God willing, we will get out of it. “

Islamic Relief is already working in the remote district of Mandera, supporting vulnerable families with water and food. Please help us to reach even more people in need.

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