The prolonged drought in Kenya has been dire, with decreased rainfall causing crops to wither and livestock to die of thirst. Entire villages have been left desperately searching for food and water sources to sustain their families and animals.
James, 74 years old, was tragically displaced from his home and separated from his family during a period of political violence in Kenya. The whereabouts of his family and children remain unknown, leaving him entirely dependent on the compassion of the community. In the midst of his profound loss and uncertainty, International Relief Teams’ food assistance programs have provided him with more than sustenance; it has given him hope. After days of hunger and desperation, the arrival of food restored his health.
In response to this crisis an emergency food program was launched, distributing fortified rice and lentils to families in need. This helped provide immediate relief from extreme levels of malnutrition.
In preparation for the time when the drought would break and rain would come again, an innovative water catchment project was launched to support families and their livestock.
During the beginning of the project, a tribe in the Rift Valley helped coordinate the digging and oversight of a catchment dam. Sure enough, rains came and the catchment was filled. With our continuous collaboration with local communities and partners, this project promises reliable direct access to potable drinking water for those who need it most.
The Water Catchment Project has had a profound impact on several fronts. The constant search for distant water sources has been reduced, allowing more time for productive farming and livestock rearing. This has not only quenched the thirst and facilitated irrigation but also significantly improved the health and livelihoods of the local communities.
In addition to mitigating the water crisis, the project has proven instrumental in managing floods. The structures built for rainwater capture and storage have helped reduce the impacts of flooding, thereby protecting communities from unforeseen natural calamities.
In November 2023, floods wreaked havoc in Kenya. Several people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced. The sudden occurrence of El Niño rains after experiencing drought for 5 years created disaster. Water reached a significant level at one point, but now that the water is a little lower, they are letting the cows in to compact the bottom of the dam so that it will hold water longer.
It can take several years for the waters to last between rainy seasons, but having the water catchment project in place is already a big step in creating a source of reliable and clean water supply in Kenya.