“I have no food; my child is starving” – a mother’s plea for help

By ChildFund Australia
Hungry and diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, two-year-old Aisha sits beside empty pots in her house drought-affected Kenya

Photo: Hungry and diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, two-year-old Aisha sits beside empty pots in her house drought-affected Kenya

The crippling conditions of Kenya’s recurrent droughts have plagued two-year-old Aisha’s entire life.

A severe drought hit Aisha’s village in northern Kenya in 2014 – the year before her birth – and a lack of rain in the years since have hampered any hope of recovery.

When the Kenyan government declared a state of emergency in early 2017, Aisha’s own condition was just as dire.

“My daughter is weak; she’s losing weight,” says Aisha’s mother, Jane. “I have no food; my child is starving.”

Like many children in drought-affected Kenya, Aisha has been diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, a condition that is fatal and can lead to brain damage if it is not treated quickly.

Photo: Jane is worried about the health of her severely malnourished daughter in drought-affected Kenya

It is a critical situation that has become all too common for children in Marsabit, an arid county on the Kenyan-Ethiopian border that has been ravaged by successive years of inadequate rain.

Their livelihoods have been thrown into disarray by climate change and the unreliability of historically dependable rainy seasons. What was once a 10-year cycle of drought in Kenya, now appears to be occurring every other year.

This has left families and their animals weak. Drought has claimed an estimated 60% of the county’s livestock, the main source of food and income for families, forcing many to abandon their homes in search of greener pastures.

For mothers like Jane the price of staple foods has risen by more than 30% and is continuing to go up amid short supply and growing demand.

The situation in is critical, according to Cecilia, a health care worker a ChildFund-supported clinic in Marsabit that provides mass screenings and vital aid for children.

“There is no food,” Cecilia says. “Children are becoming malnourished. Mothers, expectant mothers lack enough food. They are becoming anaemic.”

Photo: Aid is needed to help children like Aisha in drought-affected Kenya

Jane says her daughter, like too many children in her community, needs urgent help.

“My daughter needs milk to drink and vegetables to eat,” Jane says. “She’s not getting these things because of the drought here in our village. That’s why she’s losing weight.”

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