One year after responding to a devastating drought followed by a major food crisis in the Horn of Africa, Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s worldwide humanitarian relief agency, is working to prevent future water and food crises in northern Kenya by helping residents prepare for upcoming droughts.
“Now, we begin with the next phase of our drought intervention in East Africa”, says Ingo Radtke, Malteser International’s Secretary General. “Herders will learn how to collect rainwater for drinking, and so make do with the little natural resources they have – when the next drought comes, they will be better prepared”.
A long-term recovery project will benefit around 15,000 semi-nomads living near Illeret, located on the shore of Lake Turkana and only a few kilometres away from Ethiopian border. “This very sparsely populated region is one of the poorest and most neglected in Kenya, and it is constantly being affected by very severe droughts”, says Katja Horstmann, Kenya specialist at Malteser International. “The water from Lake Turkana is very alkaline, which makes it unsafe for drinking.” Most of the population in the region belongs to the Daasanach, a pastoralist tribe.
Starting on 1 August, the initial phase of the project will focus on the areas of water supply and hygiene. Over a period of three years, Malteser International will help the population harvest rainwater and teach them how to improve and maintain their water sources, so their drinking water is safe. In addition, the teams will conduct hygiene awareness campaigns in schools.
After an extreme drought threatened hundreds of thousands of people in northern Kenya with malnutrition and starvation in July 2011, Malteser International provided emergency relief to more than 80,000 people in Kenya’s Marsabit and Isiolo districts, distributing more than 700 tons of rice, beans and maize, in addition to cooking oil, mosquito nets, nutritional supplements and medicines. Hundreds of mothers were also taught how to better protect their children from malnutrition. Thanks to public grants and private donations from around the world, Malteser International has been able to finance its activities in Kenya with 1.6 million euros.