Ekiru Longolea tells his story near the town of Isiolo in Kenya
Photo: Siegfried Modola/Shoot the Earth/ActionAid
Ekiru Longolea is 80 years old, married to two wives and has 18 children. Here he tells Ssanyu, ActionAid field worker from Uganda, about his role in the community and selling livestock to pay for school fees.
I used to own 50 heads of cattle, 20 goats and 1 camel - most of the animals were taken by cattle rustlers and the rest were taken by drought
Ssanyu: How has the drought affected you?
Ekiru: In my village we all used to have a lot of livestock we used to feed our children very well - we used to take them to school and we could marry as many wives as we could afford. But because of the droughts that have been constantly coming, we have lost our livestock and some of the villagers are not taking their children to school. We are living like wild animals because we are forced to rely on wild fruits to survive. We eat acacia pods and other wild fruits that we have to boil for a long time before we can eat. This has become our way of life. Recently we were given some new animals by the church but we have lost a lot of them to the current drought.
Ssanyu: Since when have things started being bad?
Ekiru: Over the past 7 years the droughts have become more frequent and more severe and we have had no time to recover. Every time a drought comes, the few animals that survive are soon hit by another drought. This has caused the livestock figures for each one of us to go down. The current drought started about two years ago and before we recovered it is here with us again. That’s why we are so badly affected.
We can’t afford to pay the school fees so the children stay and help us to search for fruits
To make things worse, because of poor rains even the wild fruits are becoming scarce. The trees no longer produce as many fruits as we used to get before. There is also competition from wildlife that has to survive from the same fruits, so this makes our situation very difficult.
Ekiru: The other bigger problem with this drought is the scarcity of water. We used to be able to dig shallow wells around our homes to get water but because of the successive droughts the shallow wells have dried up. We have tried to dig deeper but there is no water, so we have to walk long distances to find water.
For example, when I leave this place I must carry water with me and by the time I get home at night my children are already thirsty asking for the water
What I have here is all the water they’ll get today, until someone else sets out to search for more tomorrow.