When I met Nancy Alimlim in the Kenyan village of Kakwanyan’g in central Turkana on Saturday, she was in tears and the pain on her face was visible.
She said she had just buried her brother – one of 10 people who have died of hunger in drought-hit Turkana in the last two weeks, according to local government officials.
At a well outside the village, women and children had queued in the scorching heat to draw water. Carcasses of goats and sheep lay nearby.
Anna Emaret said she had lost 20 of her animals.
“All my sheep and goats have died. If the government does not help us, we will die just like our animals,” she said.
Villagers said they had not had a proper meal for days, and were forced to eat a wild fruit, known locally as mkoma.
They included Moru Lomutan, a mother of six, who was trying to break the hard shell of the fruit when I visited her at her home.
“I have no energy in my mouth to bite it,” she said.
Then there was 85-year-old Mariam Loolio, who said: “As you see, I am old and blind. I have no means to go and look for food. I am waiting for the government to help me so that I don’t die.”
The government says it has started distributing food to about 800,000 people threatened by starvation in Turkana, but will it come quick enough to save the lives of the villagers?
Turkana youth leader Paul Jaling’a said drought was a recurring problem in the region because of a lack of rains, but the government had failed to come up with a solution.
Pointing out that a dam had been built across the border in Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni’s government, he said: “Why doesn’t the local and national government come together to find a long-term solution, like Museveni did?”
Kenya’s Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said the government was planning to build dams to increase the storage of water, and to help irrigate farms. –BBC