Climate change-related drought is now more dangerous than the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya, said a concerned resident from the country’s east, as drought continues to batter the East African nation.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mohamed Abdi Rage, a resident of Garissa that is among the most affected region, said that there is a dire need for water and pasture.
"The human beings are in danger right now as they live off the meat and milk of their livestock ... They don't have food for their livestock, which is hay grass, and they also don't have water," he said.
Noting that livestock is the backbone of the country’s economy and that many people heavily rely on it, Rage said that some people have begun committing suicide due to the ongoing difficulties caused by climate change-related drought.
On Sept. 29, three weeks after the government declared drought as a national disaster, the International Rescue Committee said more than 2 million Kenyans are facing hunger due to the lack of rainfall.
Apart from livestock, he went on to say, the situation is no different for wildlife, as some videos show that wild animals merely move and some of them cannot even stand up because of hunger and thirst.
"Nowadays, the drought is more severe, it's more prolonged. There are no mitigation methods in place … Local authorities are not adequate enough to meet the needs of pastoralists," said Rage.
- ‘Urgent external help needed’
Comparing the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and drought, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the country, Rage said: “Climate change-related drought is more dangerous than the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus is a minor thing for pastoralists compared to the drought," he added.
In response to a question on the arrival of aid to tackle the situation, he said that even though some international organizations and NGOs have delivered some aid, this support is far from meeting the needs.
He went on to say that relief supplies for the livestock in terms of water and pasture should be urgently provided.
"Pastoralists in Garissa cover long distances to access water for their already tired animals, but they find no water and no pasture," he said.
If no intervention is made, Rage warned, the world may see international migration and internally displaced people at a faster rate than expected.
"It's important to get external help as soon as possible," he stressed.