Coping Strategies Amidst Drought Emergencies

At PACIDA, we believe cash offers several advantages over other forms of humanitarian aid. It is cost effective, often leads to a better use of resources, and has a positive effect of stimulating local economies. More importantly, cash is a flexible resource that empowers those in need by allowing them to prioritize their own needs. In this way, it is a much more dignified and respectful form of aid– two qualities that define everything we do.

Meet Talaso Roba, a 40-year old mother of six who hails from Anchancha village, North Horr sub-county of Marsabit County. She says, “My dignity and self-worth have been restored as a woman. Even though the ravaging drought has been here with us since November of 2016, personally I have had to come up with adoptive strategies during this period to ensure survival of my family”. Ms. Talaso says that her children and husband are now used to doing one meal per day or no meal at all, an approach she says has greatly aided her put up with the not so bearable conditions. She says even taking a bath has become a luxury for them now. “If we are not able to cook for lack of water, what more of taking a bath? You could be having food in the house but without water to cook it, you’ll end up sleeping hungry. All my six children for nine days now have not taken a bath yet amongst them, I have three girls, the negative hygienic implications of this are great but what to do, we are suffering, says Ms. Talaso while holding her chin in a rather toned-down mood now.

So just before I get carried away and all emotional, I throw in a question of cash aid that the community is currently receiving. “How would you say the cash transfer programme has aided you in alleviating the suffering Ms. Talaso?” I probe. Suddenly, I could see her soul through her smile and the ambiance around us changed for the better. The cash transfer programme offered by PACIDA has greatly assisted the 89 households in Anchacha in making lives slightly bearable. She narrates, “I received the first and second disbursement all at once, 6,000/= and I thought it was a lot of money that could change my life and that of my family for the better. I was looking at how we would be able to survive even beyond this aid. Yes I was concerned on what my family would eat, but more importantly, I knew this aid would one day terminate and we’d be left yet again anticipating for more aid.”

From the 6,000/= received, 300/= was used to purchase food for her consumption while the balance of 5,700/=, she decided to purchase 50kg bag of sugar while the rest of the items she took on credit like 24 pieces of 1kg maize flour. All these, she sold to the people of her village and realized great profits. She experienced monopoly and most people preferred buying from her other than incurring transport costs all the way 13 KMs to Burgabo and back, 3000/= return on a motorbike. From the 50 kg bag, she made a profit of 700/= and from the 24 pieces of maize flour, she made a profit of 520/=. On the subsequent disbursement, she topped up the 3,000/= received on the third month and purchased more stock.

Anchancha village is a water crisis hotspot which relies completely on water trucking. Ms. Talaso now says due to the water unavailability, from the profits, she now can afford to buy a 20-litre jerican of water, which she uses for domestic needs. This though, is seen to be too costly as neighbors come to borrow a cup of water and before she realises it, she and her family have nothing to use. A 20-Litre jerican of water sells at 200/= including transportation.

“I am grateful to PACIDA because if it had not been for them, I would not be as self-reliant as I am now. Having lost over 500 shoats but 16, I literally have nothing to depend on as there is no pasture and water for the remaining livestock to survive on hence my drive to start an alternative livelihoods approach for survival. Other women commend me for the innovation, and some have said they will join in the event another cash transfer project comes their way. I just sell from my house, I don’t need a shop and I would say women and men around here now look at me as a role model.” Ms. Talaso says she would prefer cash transfer anytime as they are providing flexible, and even potentially empowering assistance to members. One has a choice on how to utilize it. She even says, one of her daughters has been sent out of school and from the remaining disbursements, she will ensure she sends her back to school and offset her school fee balance.

The 6-month Cash Transfer Programme funded by UKAID, DEC and implemented by Christian Aid through PACIDA has seen KES 3,000 given to 1200 vulnerable households all across North Horr sub-county, the worst hit by the current ravaging drought that experts see to have gotten out of hand as there is not enough response to address the deteriorating situation.

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