East Africa: Drought Forces Many to Flee from Somalia to Kenya

AAR JAPAN has been carrying out relief operations in the area affected by the severe drought in East Africa. On August 15th, we initiated our operations with the distribution of food to 520 households in Garissa, eastern Kenya, and have been conducting a survey on the effect of the drought in each region. The stories of the local people illustrate the severity of the drought.

Water, Food, Doctors Needed

On August 13th, Hiromi KAWANO, a member of the emergency relief team, interviewed Mr. Yussuf Maalim (80 years old), the elder of Nunow Village in eastern Kenya. “We lack water and food,” he said. “Although a water tank comes once a week, it’s not enough. We have been able to eat only corn flour once a day. We want meat and milk for our children. We used to get milk from our livestock, but all of our goats, cows, and camels died due to the drought.” As a result of the drought, reservoirs around the village have nearly dried up.

A lack of doctors is also a serious problem. One of Mr. Maalim’s children suffers from polio, but has not received any treatment, as the nearest hospital is 50 km away.

August 13th –“Our livestock died and we don’t have enough food,” reports Mr. Yussuf Maalim.

The Biggest Refugee Camp in the World

On August 16th, the emergency relief team visited the refugee camp in Dadaab, near to the Somalian border. Set up in 1991, this is said to be the biggest refugee camp in the world, with approximately 400,000 people living in three different camps. Most people here are Somalians who fled from civil war in their own country. Every day, 1,500 more people now arrive looking for respite from the drought.

Although all the camps in Dadaab are already full, new refugees keep arriving one after another, with many forced to live outside the camp due to the lack of space inside. Near the Dagahaley camp we met Mr. Nunou Dakat (70 years old), who came here last September to escape from the drought in Bardere, Somalia. It took 30 days for his 28 family members to walk here. “We used our donkey to carry our belongings, but it died after we arrived.” He has now been provided with corn and beans, but still has to walk 4 km to get water.

AAR JAPAN will continue relief operations while conducting surveys in Dadaab and Wazir in the northern region of Kenya. We express our sincere gratitude to our donors, and beg for your continued support.

August 16th – A refugee camp in Dadaab becomes a city with a population of 400,000.

August 16th – Ikuko NATORI (left) interviews Ms. Nunou Dakat (center).

August 16th – Children are given check-ups before entering a refugee camp.

                                                                                               Ikuko NATORI
                                                                     Overseas Division Chief, AAR JAPAN Tokyo office
Engaged in assistance to developing nations as staff for the United Nations and NGOs since 1999. With AAR JAPAN, in charge of mine action in Angola from 2006, and water and sanitation projects in Southern Sudan (now the Republic of South Sudan) from 2008. Overseas Division Chief at AAR JAPAN Tokyo office since 2010. Involved in various emergency relief efforts such as the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. (Born in Shiga Prefecture)
(Profile at the time of posting)