Drought and famine are once again causing hunger, human suffering, and death in many parts of East Africa. Forces of climate change, civil conflict, forced migration, economics, and disease are converging to create extreme shortages of food. The forecast of low rainfall for the coming months is making even the most optimistic observers gravely concerned. This food security crisis has compounded over the last 10 years and 2017 is expected to bring the worst food emergency in recent history.
The two primary methods of livelihood in rural Africa are farming and raising animals. Droughts severely affect both methods of subsistence. With no grass or fodder to eat and little water, animals die. With no rains, crops fail. With the scarcity of food throughout the region the price of staple items are costing 300% the normal price, far beyond the reach of most people.
Musili lives in a region of Kenya that has been hit hard by drought. She has six children, the youngest are twin girls who are one and a half years old. Her husband has left her and does not send any support for the children. She moved back to her childhood farm after her parents died but because of the drought she has not been able to grow food for her children. To survive, Musili goes around her village and does small jobs for her neighbors, such as washing clothes. She never knows until she is done her work how much she will get, or even whether it will be money or a little food. Since times are difficult for everyone in the region, she doesn’t get much work and there is never enough food to eat.
Every time there is a small rain Musili gets hopeful that the drought is finally over and will run around to her neighbors asking them to share some seeds.
She says, “I also ask to borrow a hoe, and when I can’t get one, I use my hands to plant.”
When the rains do not come and her seeds do not germinate, Musili must resort to going around the village, begging for food for her children. Unfortunately, most of her neighbors are struggling to feed their own children and are reluctant to share.
She says, “As I speak to you, I have no food left. We sleep hungry almost every night. My children cry themselves to sleep. They are weak and don’t have much strength. I feel so terribly bad. I am sad, depressed, confused, and can’t stop wondering what else I could do. I sometimes think that it would actually be better to die than live with hunger. Life has become meaningless. The only thing that keeps me going every day is my children.”
Musili’s sad story is the daily life that millions of people are facing throughout East Africa right now. The ADRA network is responding to the crisis in South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya.
Musili and her children will be receiving food from ADRA’s emergency response.