Most people in East Africa are farmers, and are reliant on the land and their livestock to survive. So when drought strikes, there is an immediate impact on their ability to work and feed their families.
For example, in Kenya, a drought emergency has been declared with between 80% and 90% of reservoirs and dams drying up in Turkana, its largest county in the northwest of the country and one of the hottest and driest counties in Kenya. Here, lakeside communities can no longer survive on fishing, while pastoralists are losing their livestock.
More than 1.4 million animals are believed to have died in Kenya alone as a result of the ongoing drought, with the government bringing in and slaughtering more than 75,000 weak livestock in order to share meat with more than 766,000 households in the worst affected areas.
Arshad Muhammad, Concern’s Kenya Country Director, explains: “It’s very worrying when even camels, known for their ability to survive in extremely hot and dry conditions, are struggling to survive.”
East Africa’s dependence on agriculture would make severe drought difficult enough to weather, but a number of factors have exacerbated the situation. As previously mentioned, climate change has not caused the drought, but has made it worse and prolonged the conditions. This is despite the region being one of the least responsible for climate change, being responsible for just 0.1% of global carbon emissions.