Water delivery to five drought-parched Kenyan villages


July 31, 2011

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    Joy Portella/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mercy Corps' emergency team is delivering water to drought-stricken villages in Kenya's Wajir County. Photo: Joy Portella/Mercy Corps

Yesterday our team trucked dozens of barrels of clean, fresh water to five drought-parched villages in Kenya's Wajir County. They also provided water storage tanks to each community that will hold thousands of liters — enough to quench the thirst of villagers for the next 30 days. As we ensure villages have enough immediate water supply to survive the stifling drought, we're also developing more sustainable water solutions to help guarantee their long-term water needs are met.

Our emergency response team has been working long, hot hours and traveling incredibly long distances to arrange and deliver relief to families caught up in East Africa's ongoing food and water crisis. Several staff members embarked on a nine-hour trip that took them to a village where families hadn't had sufficient water for three days.

Tomorrow, August 1, marks the start of Ramadan throughout the Islamic world, which includes most of the areas of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia affected by the crisis. Throughout the month, families reflect on their faith by fasting during the daylight hours —not eating or drinking at all. In typical years, each family breaks the fast at sundown with a celebratory shared meal called Iftar.

But this year, millions of families won't have food when night comes. Their hunger will continue. Our team is working hard to arrange food deliveries to some of Kenya's poorest and most remote villages.

Many of our emergency response staff will be marking Ramadan as well — including team leader Abdikadir Mohamud. When I asked him how the fast would affect him and his team's daily efforts, here's what he told me:

"It will be more tiring. We will have a lower energy level because of the fast. We'll start earlier each day, because the heat will catch up and get us later on," he said. "But nothing will change in terms of how we're working...we have to keep moving — we have to respond."