Cattle breeding is the source of livelihood for the majority of the population in the Mandera region in northeastern Kenya, located in the border triangle with Ethiopia and Somalia, with a population of 1.2 million people.
Since there is no electricity and water infrastructure in the sprawling villages, people meet their needs and the needs of their livestock from nearby wells, water ponds established by local authorities, and rivers.
Thousands of Mandera residents, who meet their drinking water needs and water their livestock from these aforementioned resources, face a new threat of severe drought.
Although the rainy season falls in the region in the months of October, November and December; The region has not yet witnessed rain, which led to the complete drying up of some of its wells and ponds, and the water level in some of them reached the point of depletion.
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The state government and its residents warn of the danger of thousands of livestock dying in the event that an immediate solution to the water scarcity problem is not found, in addition to the residents being forced into internal migrations and the spread of diseases.
** Temporary solutions that do not quench thirst
As part of the efforts of temporary solutions, the authorities began transporting water through tanks to wells that were depleted of water due to drought, as these tanks empty about 30 tons of water into each well every week.
When these tanks reach the village, the villagers race among themselves to fill their containers, after a long wait.
While the state government feeds some wells with water for free, residents of other villages resort to drawing water by purchasing it from tankers.
Realizing that this solution is temporary and unreliable in the long run, officials in the state stress the need to explore for new groundwater and dig deep wells in the region to solve the problem.
“There are more than 100 sites to which water is transported by tankers south of Mandera,” with these words one of the tanker drivers expressed the great water crisis in the region.
“We are transporting water to 5 different areas in Mandera by truck. We need 10 more trucks, as there is an acute shortage of water, and the wells are very crowded. More will be needed in the future due to the lack of rain,” he told Anadolu Agency.
In turn, Abdullah Shukri Ibrahim, a resident of the village of Rankara, confirmed that his village is suffering from severe drought, and that the pond near them is about to dry up.
Referring to the seriousness of the situation, he told Anadolu Agency, “This is the only dam we have in the region, and it is about to dry up due to drought. We do not have wells in the region, and if it runs out, we will not have water to drink.”
Despite the efforts of the local authorities to combat drought, and to quench the thirst of the population and livestock, these efforts did not bear fruit, as the Minister of Water, Mandira Muhammad Ali, confirmed that the authorities dug wells in the Bamboo region. However, it was disappointed by 5 wells that did not see water flowing.
** Only 15 percent of the population has access to water
Ali Nur Ali Mohamed, director of the Water and Sanitation Department in Elwak district, south of Mandera, said they can provide water to only 15 percent of the district’s population, while 85 percent of them do not have access to water.
He explained, to Anadolu Agency, that 100,000 people live in the region and are trying to provide water from 6 wells, adding, “Only 3 of the six wells provide water for 15,000 people.”
Muhammad stressed that water scarcity is also caused by power outages, and stressed that solar energy can be a solution to this problem, and that the problem can be partially solved by repairing 3 broken wells and putting them in working condition, and opening new wells.
** Wildlife is in danger
The region has not witnessed rainfall during the past three seasons, and with the exception of some major rivers, all the region’s rivers have dried up.
Also, the drought affected not only humans and pets; Rather, wildlife has been killed, as a number of wild area animals such as monkeys and gorillas race with humans to obtain water from water pools.
While thirsty deer are forced to risk their lives and migrate towards other areas in search of water.