‘Everything is dry’: Kenya’s droughts endanger pastoral crops | Drought
Kenya’s remote Marsabit County, in the far north near the border with Ethiopia, is the land of pastoralists. Even in the heat of the midday sun, the smooth tarmac roads are regularly interrupted by the meanderings of passing goats, cattle or camels.
The region has been dubbed the ‘cradle of mankind’ – Kenya has more fossil human remains than anywhere else in Africa – but the intensely unforgiving and parched environment means life here has never been easy .
But as East Africa faces a debilitating succession of droughts, the worst in 40 years, the region’s resilient communities are being stretched to their limits.
Benjamin Galwaha was born and raised in Laisamis – a modest town of 3,000 people – in southern Marsabit. The 33-year-old man runs a small shop in addition to owning a few dozen cattle and sheep.
As his three young sons watch American cartoons in one of the traditional huts he built for his family, he thinks back to just a few decades ago, when his hometown seemed like a different place: there had abundant wild animals, abundant wild fruits for foraging, plenty of space for everyone’s animals; things were peaceful.
At the time, the city had only a fraction of its current population, and the landscape was covered in a thick forest of barren land.
Now the sandy landscape looks barren, punctuated with thorny brush and the occasional green shrubbery that the goats will hopefully nibble on.
“Everybody had a lot of animals back then,” Galwaha recalls, leaning her slender body on her motorbike. “We ate meat all the time. But life has become much more difficult now.