Drought is not worthy of headline status anymore because it is not news at all, in fact, it is as predictable as rain. The truth is, there is no rain and we might not have any soon.
A little fact checking will reveal that in the foreword of a 1962 Report on Famine Relief in Kenya by the then permanent secretary in the Ministry of State and Constitutional Affairs Mr. T. Neil reads like one from a very recent report.
“It will be recalled that at the beginning of the year, Kenya was just recovering from the disastrous floods of 1961 which made famine relief distribution very much more difficult which had necessitated the Government calling upon the Armed forces for wide-scale assistance,” the report reads in part.
It further reads “famine relief is now very largely a zonal problem affecting areas like Turkana, where we still have about 6,500 people, mostly women, children and old persons, in five famine relief camps. Mention is made of these camps in the body of the Report and it is hoped that the Churches will continue to provide supervision until the problem of rehabilitating the camp inmates is finally solved, but that may not be until well towards the end of 1963;
Recent events suggest that sooner or later the country will have to turn its attention to the storage of a proportion of its own agricultural surpluses, both in grain and other commodities, so that there is always a carry-over from the fat years for use in the lean; the economic and scientific problems will be considerable, but the advantages to the country in dealing with any repetition of the 1960-62 conditions will be manifest. It is inevitable that such conditions will recur at some future date and it may not then be possible to draw on the foresight and providence of other countries”.
An article on the developmental news portal Web Relief reveals that on 10 February of 2017 the Government declared a national drought emergency, with 23 of 47 counties affected. The number of food insecure people more than doubled – from 1.3 million to 2.7 million. Some 357,285 children and pregnant and lactating mothers were acutely malnourished.
The latest nutrition surveys showed that three sub-counties (Turkana North, North Hor (Marsabit), Mandera) had Global Acute Malnutrition rates of above 30 percent. It goes on to predict severe widespread food insecurity in the months of February to May 2019.
I believe this and other similar reports are what inspired the Galana – Kulalu project. Unfortunately, the 7 Billion project has all together stalled occasioned by a stalemate between the Israeli contractor and the Kenyan government with the contractor deserting the project on account of unmet obligations. The project launched five years ago was described as the answer to perennial grain shortage through a large scale maize plantation in a region prone to flooding
More promising outcomes have however been registered elsewhere though with less funfair. A social economic intervention project dubbed OMO was hatched and executed by Bishop Titus Masika, father to celebrity gospel artiste Mercy Masika, from the Lower Eastern region of Kenya (Yatta), a semi-arid area. The initiative was his attempt at addressing the communities’ dependence on food aid. By teaching them modern farming practices, the man of the cloth was hoping to turn around their fortunes both nutritionally and economically. The outcomes were impressive; according to him, a Christian guided mindset transformation strategy was all it took, albeit in several years. In those several years, the income per capita of these community members so dramatically improved, that they experienced reverse rural-urban migration.
In her critically acclaimed literal work Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo seeks to debunk the Aid myth by demonstrating that nations that rejected international Aid and sought to pursue homemade solutions have enjoyed comparative economic prosperity to those that continued to receive aid. If the lessons from Yatta are anything to go by, maybe we should heed Dambisa’s call towards self-reliance.
As an adult learning practitioner, I have regular encounters with dysfunctional co-dependency relationships. These relationships are characterized by one party, the defendant, who is completely dependent on another party, the benefactor. The benefactor who is being depended on then develops an unhealthy relationship with their dependant such that they feel obligated to support them at whatever cost while the beneficiary suffers from underdeveloped social and resilience competencies. The resultant relationship is unhealthy, toxic and austere.
Perhaps it’s about time we reconsidered our drought interventions towards more sustainable approaches. The results speak loudly for themselves as more aid seems to beget extreme dependence. A behavioral modification approach obviously, assures better and more enduring results. Social economic resilience is not just a state of lack, it also a state of mind.