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The current news about East Africa is grave, and rightly so. The region is experiencing one of its most severe droughts in recent history, and millions of people are facing starvation. However, while urgent global action is needed to help families survive, it is important to acknowledge the resilience of these communities in crisis.
Here we spotlight people in East Africa fighting to keep themselves and their families alive.
Mumina Mohamed: Adopting climate-smart methods
Mumina used to work on a small plot of land next to the Tana River in Kenya to earn a living and provide for her family. However, this land was heavily reliant on floodwater – something that has become increasingly unpredictable in recent years.
This made farming a less viable option and pushed many families into poverty.
However, Mumina joined Concern’s Lifesaving Education and Assistance to Farmers (LEAF) project, which has already helped almost 7000 farmers like Mumina adopt climate-smart and resilient agricultural methods in the face of a changing environment.
We provide the pumps to help access irrigation canals and drought-tolerant seeds, and the farmers do the rest.
Since joining the project, Mumina has increased the amount of crop she grows, meaning her children no longer have to skip meals. Mumina has learnt how to grow maize, green grams and cowpeas using climate-smart farming techniques.
With an increased harvest, she is able to provide her children three meals a day and ensure their school fees are covered. In the coming years, she hopes to diversify her farmland and grow higher value crops such as watermelon, kale and spinach.
Lobakari Dida: Surviving on bush fruit
90-year-old Lobakari Dida is a pastoralist in Marsabit, Kenya, and has been all his life. This means he and his family have made a living rearing animals on the land. However, four successive droughts has taken all their animals.
Lobakari and his sons, Haposia Lopakari and Lokolong Long’aa are now forced to pick bush fruit to survive.
The men must walk deep into the bush to find the small fruit. These then take days of cooking to break down into an edible but not very nutritional food source. However, it is all they have to survive.
Halima: Making the journey to save a life
Halima is Aden’s grandmother. They live in a rural area about 120km outside Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
Halima noticed her grandson was getting weaker and weaker and not eating. He had a high fever and other complications so they set out on the long journey to the nearest hospital. Halima walked carrying Aden for about four hours. They then got on public transport to the city, and onto the hospital. Aden was very sick – he was vomiting and had diarrhoea – and Halima was desperate.
Aden is now responding to his treatment and is making a recovery. Halima explains that the hospital staff were very welcoming: “They welcomed us very well and we are happy with how our child is improving. It may not have been much but at least the basic treatment can happen for our child. I was also given care and food while I was here, something which I could not get anywhere else.”
If it hadn’t been for Halima, Aden’s situation may have been very different.
I was very much desperate; the child was vomiting and having diarrhoea. I was in a dilemma and I decided to take it, if he dies in between I will accept it but let me try as much as possible to reach somewhere where I can get support.
Even with people’s incredible resilience, it is still estimated that one person is dying every 48 seconds from hunger in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Concern has launched an emergency appeal for the Horn of Africa to provide the urgent help needed.
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