A cry for help – A case of Marsabit County

Its early afternoon at Koronder village, 55 kilometres from Turbi town, the ride is certainly jerky occasioned by the dilapidated road condition. As we drive deeper into the village, we are greeted by sights of numerous carcasses sprawling on the already lifeless pebbles and the bare surrounding. I suddenly have a long face like a wet weekend and in my head for a second, I think I am being delusional. So I pick up my broken self and we keep driving further in. For the animals that are lucky to survive, their body condition is worrying to say the least. The faces of the are even more emaciated than the animals themselves. So we decide to stop by one of the herds of shoats and the situation is awful. I try as much as I can to fight back my tears and finally I collect myself and walk up to them.

“Bobarotole, nageni kesam badada,” (a greeting in the Oromo language for good afternoon, and how are you today, are you peaceful ). The whole place goes quiet save for the chirping of the birds in the air who are clueless of the situation unfolding on the ground. “We are not good , we have not been in a long time, our hearts know no peace and in fact I can confidently tell you that for close to 9 months now, we have been living in this unbearable situation. For the last three months however, the situation has been pathetic and it has hastily deteriorated. Our animals have died, others that have survived are extremely weak, the aged amongst us cannot move. You see these is all that is left for us (he points to a small herds of cattle) and together with my flock, I am heading to Dosawachu borehole, 60 kilometres from where am standing now and who knows whether I will even get there safe or die along the way?” he says wit h a downtrodden voice while holding his chin. We wish him well and keep driving to Koronder, now about 28 kilometres
away.

We finally get to Koronder and women, men and children alike are queuing for water, water that they cannot see and are only hopeful a water truck will come their way any time soon from either state or non-state actors, soon here being even in the next few weeks. So tell me, how is the situation here for you as a woman, I ask Ms Sabdiyo. “The situation is bad, my animals have died, we have no milk, no food, no water at all. My last born son is 4 months old, he can breastfeed on nothing, my whole body is deficient of all minerals,” says Ms Sabdiyo with a jittery voice and tears almost rolling from her eyes. She adds, “We are suffering, we need help, someone come to our rescue please. We have no pasture, for the areas lucky to have water, they share it with livestock and therein comes waterborne diseases. If we are lucky to get water trucking, the water is very murky and salty but we have to drink it and cook with it otherwise we’ll all die before we know it, adds Ms. Sabdiyo.” At this point I am clearly besides myself with grief and I decide to move a few metres from her.

I turn at an angle of ninety degrees and I see and old scrawny man seated out of his house. I hurriedly walk up to him and we strikes conversation. His name is Mr. Denge Guyo, 91-years old. “When you look at me I am extremely skinny, evidence that I am undernourished. My family sometimes leave me here for God to take care of me, I am too old to move around with them and drought is here with us, and as an old man I can tell you for sure that we’ll not have rains here.” As though he read my mind, he jumps quiet first to trash my little knowledge on the expected October -December rainfall. He continues to say, “Looks like God is not happy when we keep destroying the environment that he gave us to watch over, the results are these; Him denying us rains to even regenerate our pasture and livelihoods. My daughter, go tell the young people that I said climate change is here with us and we have to try as much to mitigate it so that we’ll experience the goodness of the land. Otherwise, I am just here, if a well-wisher comes with food to feed me I will eat otherwise, I leave all to God.

Mr. Denge Guyo’s statement, “I am just here, if a well -wisher comes with food to feed me I will eat otherwise, I leave all to God” is typical of many residents of Marsabit County who have now resigned to fate and urgent help is required to salvage the situation.

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