It has been three months since the Government of Kenya declared the drought a national disaster on 10th February 2016. It called upon the local, international and stakeholders to support in responding to the worsening humanitarian crisis.
As the drought situation continues to bite, women and girls continue to suffer disproportionately due to their increased vulnerability, thus worsening violence against women and girls.
Disasters have increased the burden of work done by women. Most women are now primarily responsible for domestic and reproductive work, such as child care and care of the sick and the elderly. Women are currently trekking longer distance to access water points - up to a minimum of 9 kilometres. As they spend time trekking the long distances, they are constantly faced with the danger of attack from world animals as it is the case for Isiolo and or violence.
The men have migrated with all the remaining livestock’s in search of pastures, leaving behind the vulnerable women largely to head the households, cope with the drought as well as help themselves and their families to survive the drought situation. This has forced many girls who were attending school to stop school attendance in order to support their families cope with the drought.
The Social customs that limit the access or lack of control over resources – social networks and influence, transportation, information, skills (including literacy), control over land and other resources, personal mobility, secure housing and employment, have meant that women are less able to access life –saving aid and be involved in decision making processes.
The drought situation in Kenya has been compounded further by the manner in which the world seems to have deprioritised Kenya’s drought situation due to the other crises and emergencies of ‘larger scale’ in other places like Syria. Also 2017 being a general election year; the government capacity to effectively respond to the drought situation is very stressed due to the planning and direct involvement with the election process.
However, Actionaid Kenya in acknowledging that women are often the first responders to crisis, taking risk and playing critical role in the survival of their families and communities and yet often times the very last to participate in decision making – has actively trained women to effectively take the leadership role in the drought emergencies so as to ensure access, equity, accountability and protection.
AAK is comprehensively responding in 5 counties acutely affected by drought notably; Kilifi, Isiolo, Taita Taveta, West Pokot and Garissa with an average population of 1,500,000. AAIK is directly assisting communities and saving lives; supporting communities with potable water; holding the government to account; women protection; and policy and campaign work. So far 98,418 people have directly benefited.
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