The most visible, most photogenic part of the crisis in the Horn of Africa is undoubtedly the Refugee Camps in Dadaab in Kenya so as Dollo Ado in Ethiopia, but in absolute terms represent a small portion of the population hit by the crisis . Most of these people are suffering from drought in their villages, their families, trying to hold a little more, trying to wait to come another day.
Wajir and Turkana in Kenya or Borena and Shinile in Ethiopia are examples of such. In Wajir live more than 300,000 people and largely livestock is their basic source of livelihoods. So far due to the drought they have lost lot of the cattle and the little they still have left is hungry. So hungry the animals eat the rope that binds them, as it is made of hemp and is edible, so hungry that enters the house and eats what found, so hungry that we must protect the food given to children so it is not removed by the hungry beasts, so hungry that they even eat the roofs of houses as they are made from plant material …
Madam, wow many goats did you have? I ask. When I was young we had up to 300, says proudly. And a year ago, before the drought? Then I only had 150, life is difficult here. And now how many are left? Now, right now I do not know, last night was 26, but since last night sure some are dead or gone.
Why don’t you go with the herds farther, where there is water? Before we did, a man with a white beard answers, when I was young we walked up to 200 miles to find grass, but since then, each time droughts are more frequen, before we suffered one every 6 or 7 years now it’s every 2 years, he says. And more widespread, there is nowhere we can go. I look and think to myself, another one of the climate change, the typical problem, we, the rich, produce the problem but are the poor people who pay for it!
Another young lady wants to talk, she explains how difficult it’s proving to raise their children, no water, livestock has also been decimated and the price of milk for your little girl has rocketed, she can’t afford it, she can’t after loosing so many goats and those remaining are now worth less than a quarter of what they were a year ago.
Some also complain about the refugees, they say those come with their cattle and also have eaten the few remaining pastures, and also take the firewood and then the women, always women, must walk farther to fetch firewood for cooking. One more advances and says, everything is for the refugees! What about us? His face shows pain, he raises his arms and goes back to his place, frustrated. Then, one of the elders says they understand the situation of refugees who have come from afar fleeing from drought and conflict and hardship they have been through, but also he wants us to understand that they, the villagers, have no where to go, that their situation is very hard and that to take away anything from those who have so little put they it in the brink, if not already they were there.
So I walk away slowly and think how much we talk about refugees and how little about those who have no where to go, then there appears, the camel in the gutter and something inside me says, if this brutal drought is able to kill an animal as tough as a camel, what it will not be doing with all those little creatures who still do not know even to talk ….