In January last year, Nakurka, her husband and their eight children were hoping rain would arrive and break the drought in Kenya’s Turkana region.
In March, however, Nakurka lost her husband and seven-year-old son, and the worst drought in years showed no sign of abating.
“This drought has been the worst experience in my life,” Nakurka says.
Drought has always been a threat for families in Turkana. Sharing a border with South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda, the region is harsh and unyielding.
Yet historically, while rainfall patterns are among the lowest in the country, the annual short and long rains have been mostly reliable, ensuring there is just enough water to survive the difficult conditions.
However, this changed in recent years. Drought in 2014, followed by poor and below average rates of rainfall in 2015 and 2016 has led to the critical situation in the region today. What was once a 10-year cycle of drought in Kenya, now appears to be occurring every other year.
Nakurka’s family started getting desperate in February last year. Her husband gathered some friends and their livestock, and left in search of greener pastures on the Ethiopian border.
Three weeks later Nakurka learnt he had been killed.
As she grieved her husband’s death, the conditions in Turkana worsened. Food became so scarce that many people in Turkana resorted to eating poisonous fruits (locally known as sorich), which are fatal if they’re not carefully prepared.
“If you don’t boil them well for over 12 hours, you can die,” Nakurka says.
“We would eat at night before going to bed. You know if you don’t eat something before you sleep, then it becomes impossible to sleep.
But the food was not enough for Nakurka’s seven-year-old son, who was severely malnourished when he died a month after his father.
Nakurka believes all eight of her children would have died without ChildFund’s Australian donors, who helped provide food, water and essential healthcare to struggling families.