Give water and the drought will fast fade away


Water points would have been useful at a time like this, but unfortunately many of them have been neglected and are no longer useful

The drought that has gripped much of the country — especially the arid and semi-arid lands — continues unabated in Kajiado County, leaving destruction in its wake.

The situation is dire. Farmers watch helplessly as their stock of livestock is depleted daily, with carcasses of cattle, sheep and goats giving a deathly stench everywhere in the countryside. Families have been on the move — seeking pastures, help from relatives, and food for themselves.

The government has tried to step in, perhaps a little too late. The bureaucracy has meant that it takes time for help to get to the neediest cases. Governor Joseph ole Lenku’s administration has not been left behind in making its diagnoses and promises, too. Quite correctly, the governor — while in Rombo for celebrations marking the World Food Day —pointed out that water harvesting ought to be a priority if future drought effects are to be mitigated.

That is an important point. Indeed, the availability of water is the perfect solution to drought. At times like these, pastoralists struggle to find watering points to save their livestock from a certain death. Unfortunately, the livestock are often too emaciated to complete the journey to the next watering point.

Moreover, water is all what is required to enable irrigation. Despite having fertile soils, many places cannot be fully utilized for food production due to seasonal rains that often fail. Having sufficient water sources strategically positioned throughout the rural areas would ensure that farmers grow enough food for themselves and their livestock all year round.

Lenku has been the governor since the 2017 general election, so the question that must be asked is why he has failed to implement these brilliant ideas that he so easily espouses in public. The county government has not encouraged water harvesting by making it easier for farmers to get water tanks. Neither has Lenku’s administration said what it has done to increase the number of boreholes or even to maintain the existing ones. These are water points that would have been useful at a time like this, but unfortunately many of them have been neglected and are no longer useful.

There is also the Nolturesh water system, which obtains fresh water from streams flowing down from Mt Kilimanjaro. For many years, there have been complaints from local residents that the water simply flows through Kajiado to farms belonging to big names in neighbouring counties while being of little benefit to them. This matter remains to be fully addressed.

There have also been increased activities by various non-governmental organizations involved in water, sanitation and hygiene activities. It is during times like these that the impact of such organizations ought to be felt, yet this is hardly the case. Perhaps this is because such organizations tend to focus their attention on schools and other common facilities, yet in times of drought those facilities are inadequate to cater for the whole community, forcing families to be on the move and children to drop out of school.

As Deputy Pesident Rigathi Gachagua pointed out during the same function, food insecurity strikes children and expectant mothers particularly hard. Others who are severely affected are the sick, people living with disability, and the elderly. Yet, the solution to ameliorating hunger is well within our means. Once resources are utilized to tackle the water situation, drought will become a thing of the past.

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