No river in Sericho for 3 years

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 10:12

During our days assessing the impact of the drought in Sericho District, we stayed in a town called Modogashe. It is a sleepy town that is divided by a large sand bank riddled with large craters. From afar it reminds me of the moon’s surface and is a beautiful sight as people stroll up and down the large sand path that slowly winds through the town.

This large body of sand is what used to be the Ewaso Ng’iro River that separates the Eastern and Northern provinces of Kenya. As we venture out onto the sand path the reality of the drought hits me again as carcasses of dead sheep lay scattered around the edges.

The craters are 30 to 50 feet deep openings which are also shallow wells where usually one or two women can be seen at the bottom, endlessly scooping water into yellow twenty litre jerrycans.

Though the river hasn’t flowed here in nearly three years due to a lack of rain and ongoing obstruction upstream by commercial farming, the community still manages to find water from the Ewaso Ng’iro river by digging deep holes under its river bed.

“We have a lot of problems with water here. It can take up to two hours for me to fill up this jerrycan because there is so little water at the bottom of this well,” explains Halima Bidu, a 38-year-old teacher at Modogashe’s primary school which was built with the help of ActionAid.

“It is not normal to have to come all the way down here to get water. This place looks like we're in a hyena’s den. So as you can see we are living like animals now. All our problems are caused because of the lack of water in the region.”

She continues,

Women end up spending most of their day fetching water. And often when they finally reach the well they end up just sitting there waiting for a long line of people to finish fetching water. They can get here in the morning and wait till the end of the day