By ADOW JUBAT
The death of his more than 800 cows valued at Sh20 million left Mr Hajji Ahmed Addullahi Guhad, 55 a devastated man.
At market value of Sh25,000 per cow Guhad could have been a rich man but he refused to sell his ‘wealth’ and invest the proceeds in business.
In just two months, his entire herd was swept by drought as he watched helplessly.
This reduced Guhad to an ordinary man and he lost self esteem and respect. And his names have since changed from Hajji Ahmed to Ahmed ‘Waal’ (Ahmed the mad one).
Ahmed ‘Waal’ is among hundreds of the growing list of former livestock owners now roaming streets of most urban centres in the drought prone North-Eastern region, after fleeing their villages due to biting drought.
Lower North-Eastern Regional Commissioner Hassan Farah said urban streets are now flooded with ‘mad’ persons who lost their livestock to persistent drought.
The pastoralists have established settlements in the urban centres dubbed as ‘Hooyga Iskadeg’ (Somali-the homes of drought IDPs).
“We have a big number of pastoralists families mainly from Mbalambala, Danyere, Banane, Modogashe, Dadadab and Sankuri who are returning only with their walking sticks from Eastern region of the country, part of war-tornSomaliaandEthiopia. These people lost their entire animals which they took to those areas for pasture and water”, Mr Farah told The Standard in an Interview at his office in Garissa.
The administrator said more than 600,000 people inGarissaCountyrequire urgent humanitarian assistance to cushion them from hunger.
“The drought is getting worse by the day and it is becoming a great concern for the Government. We are doing everything at our disposal and we urge the international community and well-wishers to step in and help starving families”, he added.
Farah said out of the 600,000 starving population at least 216,000 receive monthly relief hand outs from the Government. The Government has disbursed Sh1.5 million to each of the eleven districts in the region for water projects and will soon commission Sh100 million Modogashe borehole project and Sh4 million borehole projects in Lagdera and Dadaab districts respectively.
Farah said acute water problem has compounded the drought situation and the last dam holding water in Hullugho, Ijara District is expected to dry up this week.
“As we are talking now none of the 118 water pans in the county are holding water, even the Hullugho dam we are speaking of drying this week is virtually not holding water, but wet soil which people and animals are scavenging for water”, he said.
He said so far 30 per cent of the 600,000 cows inGarissaCountyhave been swept by drought and added that an equal percentage of goats and camels have also succumbed.
However, the administrator assured residents that the Government is enhancing relief food allocation during this holy month of Ramadhan to ensure their religious duty is not affected by hunger. Garissa County Kenya Red Cross Society relief co-coordinator Osman Adan said they are facing challenges due to surging numbers of food insecure individuals.
“We are currently targeting 116,850 persons against a starving population of more than 600,000. It is difficult to feed some while leaving out others after they all turned-up at the food distributions centres” he said.
He explained that the food allocation per person includes cereals of 6.9kg, yellow peas 1.2kg and oil 0.4kg which is 50 per cent relief assistance for the most vulnerable persons and families.
Mr Adan regretted that livestock crowd watering points and some that are too weak succumb after a long wait.
He said pastoralists tired of massive death of their animals leave carcasses at water points that are now a health hazard.
Pastoralists have resorted to killing new born calves to save their weak mothers from being sucked to death.
And in Khalalio Division inManderaCountya man who declined to be named for social reasons said he divorced his younger wife due to drought.
“I had to call off my marriage with my youngest wife with two children. My entire 62 goats were killed by drought and with no other source of income I should give her a break because what we receive as relief food ration is hardly enough to sustain my other family of twelve children” he said battling tears.
He adds: “I decided to separate with her because she comes from a stable and had only two sons to take care of compared to the other wife who has 12 children and hails from a very unstable family. If life changes “Inshallah” (God willing) we can re-unite”.