Water Scarcity in Kenya
Climate change hits Africa hardest. The continent faces more drought, floods and extreme weather patterns threatening peoples’ livelihoods and pushes food prices up. In East Africa communities have been at the forefront of climate induced droughts and floods. Misplacing many and increasing poverty in the region. Between water scarcity and El Nino induced floods, small scale farming projects have suffered.
Below are human stories from vulnerable communities around Kenya facing water scarcity whilst adapting to weather changes.
Dama is an elderly woman living in Kilifi County. Mwabanda is the name of the well, which has been the source of water for the villagers for almost three years. She goes to the well three to five times a day. But recently the drought has drastically diminished the amount of water available. “The drought is so severe that even men nowadays have to join us to fetch water”, says Dama
Mama Dogo, a woman who is on her way home, balancing on her head a jerrican full of water, commonly known as a ‘kia’. There has been no rain and the maize crop has failed due to the severe drought. The region suffers from food insecurity increasing cases of malnutrition among children. Now they depend on shallow dug wells and ponds.
A young girl, who is a primary example of how climate change negatively impacts the lives of young girls. Her school attendance is often disrupted because she has to help fetch water. She barely makes any eye contact but informs us the pond is called Kwa Kagogo. She then continues to fill in her jerrican with water, under the scorching sun that hits Kilifi County.
Clemence, resides in Bemkambe village in Kilifi County where the river Bemkambe, has been dry for almost five years. Where the river meandered previously is now a bed of rocks and sand. ‘In previous years, the rains would start in March and continue till May.’ However this year, there was no rain at all. Our maize and rice crop failed due to drought.’
‘Tangu El Nino ya 1997, hakuna mvua ya maana…’ which means that there has been no significant rain since the 1997 ElNino, claims Mr. Chome, a 60 year old resident of Chanagande, Kilifi county. He is distressed by changes in weather patterns as people and livestock have died due to drought. The village was characterized by banana plantations when he was in his youth. He counts and points towards only three frail banana plants remaining on his farm. The impacts from climate change are visible in most parts of the village. Mr. Chome has had to adapt to climate changes which have affected his crops and livestock.
Mrs. Naomi Kenga
Hawe Dena as she is commonly referred to in Kaloleni area, Kilifi County is an 87 year old strong and resilient woman who tells of how weather patterns have drastically changed and affected water supply in the area. She has a subsistence farm and plants various crops. ‘Mwaka huu mahindi hayakukuwa kwa sababu ya ukosefu wa mvua,” she says, meaning that this year the maize did not thrive because of lack of water. Her farm is rain-fed and so when there is no rain she is severely affected. She has resorted to cassava planting in some parts of her farm because cassava does not need a lot of water to survive. She walks us towards the cassava plants, to show us how the plant is fairing in the current dry condition. The soil beneath our feet is very hot. She has a well constructed in her ‘shamba’ and she takes us on a tour around the farm and to the well, however the well depends on rain water and is currently dry.
The Bemkambe Borehole is an intervention plan carried out by the community to aid the lack of water. There are always several people at the borehole including school children, queuing in line to fetch water. There are young men who take charge of controlling the borehole and charging the water. These two young men tell us that the population in the area has increased and therefore the water from the borehole is not sufficient for everyone. “Sometime back, the drought was so severe that people would sleep at the borehole since they could not wait all day in line to get water” says one of the young men. The borehole water is very clean, compared to the pond water. One of the men suggests that there is need for other long-term solutions to deal with the drought brought about by climate change. .
In order to meet the targets in the Paris Agreement and save the planet from climate devastation, immediately halt new coal, oil and gas development and finance a just transition towards a 100% renewable energy future for all.