Biting Drought In Nyeri Leaves Over 100,000 People In Need Of Food Aid

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Dry river beds and bare farm lands characterize parts of Nyeri county, domestic animals are  also feeling the effects of the changes, as they have had to adapt and settle for food they otherwise would not touch.

It’s not what one would expect in a county that boasts of the highest forest cover in the country at 40%. 

The county is feeling the effects of drought in unprecedented proportions , with the number of those in need rising daily as Nyeri governor Mutahi Kahiga explains.

“The number of people in dire need of humanitarian assistance in the county has risen to approximately 131000 , with the worst hit subcounties being kieni East and Kieni West, which together account for 52,000 people in need of relief support,” Governor Mutahi Kahiga told Citizen TV on Sunday. 

It’s unfamiliar territory for many, such as Mary Wambui. We find her at her home at Kamatongu in Kieni constituency doing laundry as 4 of her 8 children play nearby.

“Huku hakujakua na mvua kwa misimu mitatu , na kwa madhamba hakuna kitu kwa madhamba kwa hivyo njaa ni kama imezidi sana,” Mary Wambui says. 

Wambui explains that they depend on their farm for their livelihood, but now they have no hope of a harvest with no signs of the short rains in sight.

As it is, the elderly in Nyeri are even more vulnerable. 89-year-old Hannah Wairigia has had her 1/4 acre piece of land readied for planting, but she says it remains bare as there are no rains

In a few words Wairigia says most of the elderly are desperate as those they depend on are equally in the same situation 

Joyce kairu works with the elderly under purity elderly care foundation, she says that the greatest challenge currently among senior citizens is hunger and they have had to rely on government relief food to feed the most affected.

“Here in Kieni, we are finding alot of hungry elderly people who are hungry, families are away and they aren’t able to support themselves and therefore can’t support their elderly,” Ms Kairu says. 

Apart from the food crop farmers who are suffering as a result of the drop, the cash crop farmers have also been affected by the drop.

Godfrey Mutahi is a coffee farmer in Kiricho , Nyeri town constituency, which borders Kieni.

Coffee farming is a trade he has done for decades, like many here. They are however, at their wits’ end as they come face-to-face with a challenge many have never seen before,  a season so dry that their coffee bushes are also dying up.

“Kumekuwa na shida isipokuwa ni kubumilia kama mwanaume, hii jua imewaka imeanza kuniletea hasara nyingi sana, juu nilikuwa ninkeibest Kka kahawa lakini naona kumekuwa mwisho kama nikahawa imeanza kukauka,” Mutahi says. 

Coffee farming is an expensive affair as Mutahi explains and they are struggling to come to terms with glaring losses 

It is so bad here that even banana plants have not been spared the wrath of the drought,  the farmers saying they too must be considered as the government steps up drought intervention measures across the country.

And in response to wading in unfamiliar waters, the county government of Nyeri has launched a committee to mobilize resource and lead in the mitigation efforts  even as locals call for permanent solutions such as provision of water for irrigation

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