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The mothers of Marsabit are resilient. They have their own traditional ways of supporting each other at times of crisis. They might share food or lend a neighbour a cow so their children have milk to drink. But they have never before experienced hardship like this. And what can you share if you have nothing left to give?
Like other parts of East Africa, Marsabit - a huge county in northern Kenya - is currently experiencing its most severe drought in recent history. Food insecurity there has soared to emergency levels, with hundreds of thousands of people in urgent need of assistance.
The traditional pastoralist communities of Marsabit have long been used to moving their livestock to more fertile ground when the rains fail. But today, everywhere is affected by this unprecedented drought.
The land is dry and littered with animal carcasses. With little vegetation to feed on, many people's cattle, goats, donkeys and camels have starved to death.
Without a livelihood, families are on the brink and have been forced to use all the resources they have at their disposal to survive.
Lucy: "We are strong people but there's only so much a person can take"
Lucy Ngiposho (36) has two children. The youngest, two-year-old Sharon, has been receiving treatment for severe acute malnutrition at a nearby Concern-supported clinic in Loiyangalani.
Earlier this year, Lucy's family lost all their livestock because of the drought, and that has left them without a sustainable livelihood and only limited access to food.
I never thought we would be living in the situation we are facing right now. Life has become so difficult for us. We have lost all the goats we had. It is such a terrible loss. How will we recover?...We are strong people but there is only so much a person can take.
Lucy now earns some money from breaking rocks into hard fill for constructing houses, ingeniously using a heavily worn flip-flop to secure the stones in place before smashing them with a hammer. And for the past three months, she has been receiving emergency cash assistance from Concern.
By these two means, Lucy is able to buy food for the family, but their circumstances remain tough.
Our options are becoming less and less. The cash assistance we receive means a lot to us. I do not know how much worse our lives would be without this support. But what will happen when it stops and the drought continues? That is something that I am always thinking about and that stresses me all the time.
Lokaale: "All my children are on a knife edge"
All 20 of Lokaale Lorubun's goats were lost in the drought. Her husband has also gone - to earn some money from tending to what remains of other people's ever-diminishing herds.
In order to feed her five hungry children, Lokaale sometimes asks her neighbours for food and occasionally walks to Lake Turkana to seek fish to spare from local fishermen, which she takes back to the village to sell.
When there are no options left, Lucy forages for wild fruit.
I wish my life was better. Things have got worse as time has gone on. There are days when we do without food. This half-full bag of wild fruit is all we have to eat at the moment...All my children are on a knife edge – every day we do not know whether we will make it.
Lokaale's youngest child, nine-month-old Loonkwo, is moderately malnourished and has received help from a mobile nutrition outreach that visits the village every month from a Concern-supported clinic situated 65 kilometres away.
Because the family situation is so desperate, Lokaale shares the emergency supplementary feeding sachets that she receives specifically for Loonkwo with all of her children.
The hard thing for me is that I cannot make a difference in any of my children. What am I to do – choose one above the other? So I share the emergency food among all the children. Sometimes, I boil a cup of water and add the paste to it for the children to drink.
The village where Lokaale lives is not far from vast Lake Turkana, but it has been particularly badly hit by the drought. To date, six local people have died from the effects of malnutrition. There is little assistance for the 500 families who live there – most of whom, like Lokaale, are pastoralists without animals.
I often think that there is something for me outside of the village. I hear that there are opportunities in other parts of Kenya. But what am I to do? This is all I know. I have no opportunities, and no way to escape this life.
Lowiriyen: "This is not a way that anyone should have to live”
Inside Lowiriyen Ekal's home, a small kid goat shelters from the rain. The downpour lasts only a few minutes. By the time the young goat ventures outside again, the earth is already dry.
Mum-of-two Lowiriyen (33) rescued the goat after it had been abandoned. The owner could no longer afford to feed it and she claimed it as her own. It is all she possesses after losing all of her own goats to the drought. That loss also means that a sustainable livelihood and reliable access to food have gone too.
The impact of that left Lowiriyen's 18-month-old daughter, Lagu severely malnourished. Thankfully, she is now recovering after receiving emergency food at the nearby Concern-supported clinic at Loiyangalani, and with Lowiriyen's loving care and attention.
My child was sick. But she is getting better each day. My priority now is to see her improve fully...I am focused on one thing – and that is helping my child to survive.
Lowiriyen is the main breadwinner in the family and seeks out casual work where she can, mostly sweeping outside and inside people’s houses.
For the past three months, she has also received a monthly emergency cash transfer from Concern, which she uses mainly to buy food for her family and adopted goat.
It is difficult for us to live with these hardships. One time, we face floods, the next, locusts, then, drought. I cannot remember a time when things were so bad for us. And I ask myself, what will become of my child I if we have nothing left to eat? This is not a way that anyone should have to live.
Adho: "It is not right that any child should face this”
Adho John has referred her 19-month-old daughter Midina twice to the local clinic in recent months for treatment for hunger. Thanks to a monitoring programme supported by Concern, Adho used a special measuring band on Midina's arm which indicated that she was malnourished and took her straight away to the health centre for emergency food.
Since the family lost 30 of their 40 goats to the drought, they have struggled to find food. Adho often asks her neighbours for support but they cannot give her much. Everyone is in the same desperate situation.
There are many times when I go to bed hungry so that the children can eat. And there are other times when we all go hungry without eating all day. I am not the only one in this difficulty – everyone in the village is suffering in the same way
Camel carcasses and the recent remains of a donkey line the road to Adho's village. The earth is stony with sparse vegetation. The normally hardy mathenge bushes dotted here and there appear to be desiccated.
4,400 people live in the village and most of them, like Adho, have lost large numbers of livestock. The situation is so bad that an elderly man died of starvation a few months ago.
With the prospect of another failed rainy season, Adho is deeply worried about her family's future.
What hope do my children have? How can they survive this situation? It is not right that any child should face this.
We have rapidly expanded our humanitarian and emergency response work in Kenya, with the aim of helping 2.5 million people at risk of starvation.
With your help, we can continue to provide emergency food for children, as well as breastfeeding mothers, particularly in Marsabit and neighbouring Turkana, the worst-affected counties.
Can you help mothers and their families to do all they can to survive hunger?
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