Drought menace in highlands of Baringo

Drought menace in highlands of Baringo

Baringo county continues to hit headlines due to the drought situation in Tiaty sub-county which lies in the ASAL part , the untold truth is that it is not the only part of Baringo affected by the situation.

When Kenya News Agency  toured Kapkiamo village in Baringo North, one of the areas laying on the slopes of Tugen highlands to establish the facts about the drought situation, the residents of the highlands and their livestock were coupling with the stress of acute water shortage.

The lavish green environment when seen from a distance will give the impression that the area is full of life but deep inside the local residents are equally stressed like their counterparts in Tiaty in terms of water scarcity.

Most of the water points have dried up and have been replaced by dry leaves of trees which shed as a way of adapting to the climate changes.

The area has only one permanent spring called Lomet but the water trickling is very little and that is what the locals have to share with their cows.

It takes upto 30 minutes to fill a 20 litre jerican hence forcing the locals especially women and girls to spend their nights at the spring which is heavily invested by snakes.

Water project chair of Lomet Mzee Japhet Ruto Kipseburoi said the spring could accommodate the entire sub-location but currently with increased population resulting from factors like establishment of Kapkiamo secondary and primary schools and increased livestock,the demand for water outweighs the capacity of the spring.

“Currently this water spring is relied on by more than 4,000 people, 2,000 cows and 3,000 goats despite the fact that the water level has decreased drastically forcing us to walk for more than three kilometres downstream to the next water point,” said Mzee Ruto.

He expressed his dissatisfaction with the current and past leadership saying they have put in the fore front other projects like roads and electricity instead of focusing on water which was very critical in the livelihood of people and their livestock

Chairperson of Nyumba Kumi Mercy Korir alias Mama County who is also a manual laborer and a mother said the water problem was threatening to break families because women spend long hours at the water point where they always engage in a push and pull as they scramble for the diminishing water.

“At this water point, you will find more than 500 jerricans paraded in the evening after children come from school and the queues may last for more than 12 hours, the scramble of water sometimes goes physical and as a result some have lost their teeth or sustained injuries,” said Mrs Korir.

The acute water shortage has also resulted in the shortage of milk in the area because the cows do not get sufficient water which helps in milk production and as a result, she noted that the price of raw milk has shot up to about Sh 100 per litre.

She added that cases of teenage sex exploitation were on the rise, a scenario which recurs every season they experience drought adding that some of the young girls end up getting pregnant at the expense of their education.

An elder, Mr Charles Kulei Kachekere noted that the water problem was breaking their community norms which bars men from fetching water.

“In our Tugen culture, the work of fetching water is  preserved for women and girls alone but the acute water shortage in this area has forced us as men to assist our women to fetch the water,” he said.

He pointed out that as men from the community, they have assigned themselves duties whereby they accompany the women to the water point to act as their supervisors because if they are left alone they scramble for the natural resources and sometimes fight.

“At the water point there must be at least two men who will be controlling activities going on there so that we ensure everybody including the cows get a chance to get water.

“Last year, we experienced many cases of women and girls fighting over water during dry seasons and this time round we are preventing such scenario’s,” said Kachekere.

Kachekere cited slow implementation of phase two of the Multi billion Kirandich dam in the outskirts of Kabarnet which he noted would have addressed their perennial water problem.

He asked Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui who hails from Baringo to followup with the Kirandich water project which has stalled for the past ten years and was expected to supply water to their area.

Report by KNA

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