Life and death is measured in animals for the nomadic pastoralists of Kenya. Khureisha and her husband had over 300 animals. Now they have 13. They watched them die, one by one, over the past three drought-ridden years. In total they lost 75 cows, 140 goats and 90 camels.
The death of the camels was the hardest blow – camels are hardy desert animals and can normally survive droughts. In previous droughts the family have “never lost one camel" Khureisha explains in quiet anguish. Losing their livestock also meant losing their self-sufficiency.
On the move
Twenty-six-year-old Khureisha and her husband normally live in Somalia, but borders mean little to a nomadic family. They usually move with their animals between Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, depending on where there are rains and pasture. These past three years, they and thousands of other pastoralists had nowhere to go as the entire region was gripped by drought.
The family of five now lives in a village called Arabia in north-eastern Kenya, and they survive on food aid from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Islamic Relief is providing nutritional support for the couple’s three children who were suffering from malnutrition.
"There is always God who provides," states Khureisha, "but without this support, we……would probably have died."
Khureisha says her three children are steadily improving, thanks to the support from Islamic Relief, but they are "still weak from the drought. The drought was long," she says, her blank, pained expression adding emphasis to her words.
Islamic Relief has been working in the village of Arabia and the district of Mandera, providing life-saving nutritional support for the most vulnerable.
An outbreak of dysentery claimed over 20 lives in Mandera, so Islamic Relief staff began a hygiene campaign, going from hut to hut and educating mothers about the need to boil water before their families drink it or even cook with it.
To provide for the future, Islamic Relief is rehabilitating the water bore hole. The village community is involved in this project to ensure that the borehole is managed and maintained to continue providing safe clean water for years to come.