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Fatima's story

In the Northeast region, the drought has lasted for the past four years - everything is bone dry, water holes have dried up and people must spend all their energy to get water.

It sounds obvious, but drought affects everything. The day is marked out by the task of finding enough water for yourself, your family and livestock as well as safely carrying it home.

Fatima Daar Foot has walked many miles to the village of Dertu in north-east Kenya on her daily trip to find water. She is accompanied by her family's last remaining mule. "All our animals are dead due to the drought," she says. "We have nothing left. All the camels and goats are dead and the food prices are so high that we cannot afford to buy food."

Fatima has eight children and two grandchildren. Some of her children and grandchildren have gone to live with relatives who have a little more to share. "It is terrible, we're suffering deeply," she says.

Drought affects food prices and incomes. Food prices have increased substantially in the whole of the drought area. Some staple foods have doubled in price. One kilo of rice used to cost 60 shilling (about 60 cents), but now costs 120 shilling ($1.20). A kilo of sugar was 80 shilling (about 80 cents) but now it is 150 ($1.50). And while prices rise, the drought makes it harder for families to earn a living from the land so their ability to buy is reduced.

The village of Dertu is the only water point covering a radius of 50 kilometres. It has inevitably become a destination for farmers as well as people living on the land looking for water for themselves and their animals. Some farmers have taken their animals into Somalia where there is more vegetation but also more danger. Others have died due to lack of food.

The emergency

East Africa is enduring one of the worst droughts ever, leaving millions of people without sufficient food and water. The humanitarian crisis is worsened by the ongoing conflict in Somalia. More than 1.46 million people are internally displaced in Somalia and thousands more are crossing the borders of neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya, putting additional strains on drought-affected communities in those areas.

Photo: Jakob Dall/Danish Red Cross

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