By Hasan Huseyin Kosger
MANDERA, Kenya (AA) – As East Africa’s worst drought in decades ravages parts of Kenya, there are some areas in its worst-hit Mandera region where entire populations simply do not have access to water.
Elwak is one such town of some 100,000 people, a majority of whom are living life without the essential need that is water.
Water bodies that once sustained entire communities in the area have long dried up, as have the wells set up as replacements.
Local authorities have been making use of tankers to ferry water from far off areas to fill up the six wells serving Elwak and its people.
Still, at the moment, “only three of the six wells are working,” according to Alinour Ali Mohammad, head of Elwak’s water and sanitation department.
“There’s only enough water for 15,000 people,” he said, a figure that means around 85,000 people, or 85% of Elwak’s population, currently lack access to water.
Mandera, home to around 1.2 million people, has not seen significant rainfall for the past six years. The latest three-month period in which rains were expected – from October to December – has also brought no reprieve.
Abdullah Shukru Ibrahim, who lives in the village of Warankara, said people have been left with nothing after the drought devoured the only water source in the area.
“We have no wells and soon we will have no water to drink,” he said.
Tankers bring water once a week to fill up the wells in the area, but the limited quantity is nowhere near enough for the population.
More than 100 tankers operate in the region, according to a driver who brought water to a well in southern Mandera.
“We carry water to five different locations in Mandera. We need more tankers. There is a shortage of water and the wells are very crowded,” he said.
“Since there is still no sign of rain, there will definitely be a need for more tankers and water in the future,” he added.
With no solution in sight, authorities fear thousands of more animals could perish and hundreds of thousands of people will be forced to abandon their homes.