It happens every few years. Here are some headlines I found by just googling “drought kenya”:
2016: 1.3m Kenyans affected by drought – government
2015:Kenya ending drought emergencies policy review: scenarios for building resilience in ASALs
2012: Drought in Kenya | Eastern Africa | Practical Action
2011: Millions affected by drought in Kenya and the Horn of Africa – IFRC
2011: Drought Threatens Turkana Way of Life in Kenya – VOA News
2005: Battling drought in Kenya
…. I could go on, but to what end?
Well, three things we can do:
- Stock up grass (hay) and grains during the months of plenty. Joseph stocked up for seven years. Western countries stock up hay for winter (six months, counting end of autumn and start of spring).. They use precise calculations: I saw an online guide that explained, for instance, that the average 1,000 pound horse needs about 20 pounds of hay per day…. So to stock up, multiply 20 punds x number of horses x 30 days per month x 6 months and voila, you know exactly how much hay to stock up. Whey do we send our kids to school and end up without ONE who can do such a calculation?
- Establish holding grounds for animals: they could be owned by coops (who can buy, keep or hold cash on behalf of their members for sold animals during the drought period), or by investors (not government; government is not structured to do business. If you doubt it, ask the government how the one-million-acre Galana irrigation project is going). The holding grounds can also serve as off-taking points, where farmers can sell their animals with with assurance that once the drought period passes, they can buy.
- Build more sustainable systems for water storage. Open air dams evaporate during very hot months. Sand (sub-surface) dams, on the other hand, are cheaper to build, keep water for long periods below ground, are less prone to contamination and produce sand-filtered water. And, better still, they create a wet bed all around them, where farmers can grow vegetables and /or fodder! When these benefits were outlined to me when I served as chair, Tana Water Services Board, I mobilised resources and build almost 500 of them, each one at only Shs 500,000 ($5,000) in Kitui and Mwingi. The dams survive to date, almost 10 years later.