A hunger crisis is sweeping East Africa, leaving death and despair in its wake. As many as 25 million people are in danger of starvation in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya — four countries where World Vision works.
In northern Kenya, the people of Turkana have been hit hard. They are pastoralists who depend on seasonal rains that provide food for their animals. The animals, which serve as their food and their livelihoods, are nearly gone.
Joseph Adome, who directs World Vision’s work in Turkana, says rainfall was measly last fall, just 100 milliliters, or 3.3 ounces — imagine a travel-size liquid container.
Grasslands have turned into graveyards as the carcasses of donkeys, cattle, sheep, and goats litter the landscape, their ribcages white mounds jutting from the brown dirt.
One community was named Nanaam, which means water. Now they call their village Ngikwasinyen, or dry sand, after a series of droughts. “There was a river here that used to flow with water,” says Nalet Ekapuon, 53.
Ngikwasinyen was once a place of beauty, where pastoralists grazed their animals under shooting stars and the children would laugh and play until the sun went down. There was milk to drink and meat to eat. Now there is nothing but dry sand and dry bones.
Their animals have died. They know they are next.
Thousands of other families across East Africa are at risk of living similar stories. Millions of people teeter on the brink of disaster in what U.N. officials warn could become the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. Without immediate intervention, they risk starvation.