Kulla Dida, 47, Gamura, Marsabit County, Photo Credit: Joyce Kabue:Oxfam

Resilient Women: Resilient Communities

My name is Kulla Dida, I am 47 years old and from Gamura community, Marsabit County, where I was born and raised.  I am married and the mother of six children, four are currently in school, one is looking after the family livestock and the other is too young to start school.  My husband is a herder and I am a housewife – part of a pastoralist community.  I am in charge of taking care of my family, making sure they eat and the children go school. It is currently difficult to get meals for my family because of the drought that has led to diminished grazing land, dry water points, shops closing down because people can not pay debts making it hard to restock them. We are forced to go to Marsabit town to buy vegetables and cereals, which cost KES 300 (€3) per trip.

Currently many of our animals have died and the ones left are at risk of dying. This drought became severe in October 2016, which is when we really started seeing the animals dying. Since then, the body condition of the camels, goats and shoats has worsened because the animals have finished all the pasture near our homes. We are now forced to take them far from our homes where there is still some grazing land left. Pasture can now only be found in the Huri Hills which is 60KM away from Gamura.  Although Huri Hills has some little grazing land left, there is no water, so we are forced to buy and truck water to the hills which is expensive ( KSh 33,000 equivalent to €330 per 5000 litre truck.  To help us survive we are pushing for the county officials to truck water to the grazing lands. The training we received from Concern on ways we can cope with drought has helped us. We now know that we can go to the county offices and ask for support from specific people. The County people heard our cry and trucked water to Huri Hills for our animals. So far they have sent water three times since the drought started.  Even though we appreciate this help, the water is not enough. We are forced to come together as a community and buy water jointly.  The county has also given us food relief to help cope with the current drought situation.

In 2014, Concern Worldwide trained us on how we can cope and manage the effects of drought and how we can work with different people such as the county government to improve the lives of our people. They also trained us on managing our grazing land, after the training, we received KES 200,000 which we used to fence grazing land that we agreed as a community to use only when the drought became severe and our animals had nothing else to eat near our homes.  Protection of grazing land was new to us, but it was very useful and has helped our animals during this drought. Unfortunately the drought has stayed longer than we had imagined it would, the animals have also eaten all the pasture in the grazing land we had set aside and that is why we have taken them to Huri Hills.

Concern Worldwide staff have been good friends to us, they always visit us and train us on how we can come together to develop our community, start businesses and cope with the drought.

In December 2016 while the drought situation had become really bad, Concern people came to us and asked us to select people from our community who we felt were most affected by the drought. We selected 35 people (21 women and 14 men) from 35 different households and submitted the names to the Concern team. As a village we selected the people who were most vulnerable, for example the widows, widowers, those living with disabilities and those who had little or no livestock or any source of income. I am not a beneficiary but my mother is.

“We selected more women than men because women are more needy because they are the ones feeding the children, they are the ones who feel the hunger and pain of the children and work to lessen this pain from the children and their families.” Dida

The Concern team then came back (December 2016) and told about the ‘slaughter off take” and we agreed to the idea. Each of the 35 beneficiaries agreed to take one goat to the next community baraza  (community public meeting) where in return they received a KES 3,000 (€30) cash voucher.  This cost is currently above the market rate of an average goat, which we are selling at KES 1,000 (€10) because the drought has lowered the market prices of our animals. These 35 goats were slaughtered, the original owner of the goat received half the goat and the rest was shared amongst the community members.  The Concern team then encouraged us that we can keep practising this method that they call slaughter off take, that we can come together as a community to slaughter and eat some of our goats to help improve the nutrition levels of our children and ourselves.

As a pastoral community, we are not very comfortable with the idea of slaughtering our animals, to us they are wealth but this Concern method enlightened us that we do not have to wait for the animals to die, but we can eat some of them to help us cope.  The 35 people who received the money also managed to use it to buy water, vegetables, cereals and packet milk because the goats were not producing enough. They were able to have more than one meal a day. Therefore we felt the benefits of selling our livestock and eating some.

I feel the training we receive from Concern and the support they give our community disaster management committee has helped improve how we handle drought. Now we are able to first look around for what we have as a community and how we can use it to make things better for ourselves instead of always depending on outsiders to solve our problems. But now that the drought has become so severe, we are worried because we do not know when the rains will come. For now because only God can give us rain, we need more education and capacity on how we can cope with drought because it has become so frequent. Just when we had started recovering from the 2012 drought, came the 2014 drought and now there is another severe drought, the worst we have ever experienced.  We ask Concern and other partners even the county government to give us more information and what we can do to survive. We also ask the county to track more water to the grazing fields.

It is my hope to see Gamura develop, I want to see businesses opening up and not closing down every time there is a drought. I want our children to go to school without dropping out. I insist on education.  Education for the children and us parents and community members in general will transform us and we will not have to depend on others every time. When our children are educated, they will get jobs, start businesses and poverty in Gamura will reduce. That is what I desire for Gamura people.

After the drought is over, I would want to start a livestock business. I plan to buy livestock during the rainy season and sell during the dry season. I would even desire to take my animals to the Nairobi market where prices are better than in the Marsabit town livestock market. But the frequent drought is a hindrance to us starting the business, for example, like now, even though we would want to sell our livestock to save them from dying because of lack of pasture and water, the market prices are very low so we would have to sell at a loss. This is the problem we find ourselves in. We want more support from Concern experts to guide us on knowing when to sell before the market price drops.  Though we are highly pastoralist, business will help us have a different source of livelihood when the livestock market is bad.

About The Resilience Consortium Project

Kulla Dida is a beneficiary of the Resilience consortium funded by EU humanitarian aid. The consortium supports arid and semi land lands communities in strengthening their resilience to external shocks and stresses such as the frequent droughts. The consortium equips communities and stakeholders with knowledge and tactics on how to prepare, respond, mitigate, cope and recover from these shocks and stresses.

The consortium, in its 6th phase is currently focusing on strengthening systems and structures at county and national levels. In the previous phases, 1-5, the consortium members focused on strengthening the community systems and structures, with 64 communities in Turkana, Marasbit and Wajir Counties supported in forming Community Disaster Management Committee (CDMC). The Consortium is currently still working with these committees, linking them with the county and national structures to coordinate disaster management while ensuring sustainable development and long lasting solutions to humanitarian crises.

In case of a crisis, like the current drought that has affected 23 Arid And Semi Arid Lands ( ASALS), the consortium has set aside an emergency envelope fund to help affected communities cope and recover from the shocks.  Currently, Concern Worldwide is leading in executing the Emergency response using the existing Hunger Safety programme where 650 households in north Horr sub county, Marsabit County are receiving direct support in terms of KES 3,000 (€30) from slaughter off take and direct one cash transfer of KES 3,000 (€30) per households .