• The latest data by Oxfam shows in some parts of Northern Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, the cost of water has skyrocketed by 400 per cent since January 2021.
• Oxfam notes that failed rain is predicted to persist for a sixth consecutive season by May, making this the longest drought on record.
An estimated 33.5 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia do not have access to enough drinking water.
The latest data by Oxfam shows in some parts of Northern Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, the cost of water has skyrocketed by 400 per cent since January 2021.
Oxfam notes that failed rain is predicted to persist for a sixth consecutive season by May, making this the longest drought on record.
In Northern Kenya, 95 per cent of water sources have dried up in pastoral areas like Marsabit and Turkana causing water prices to rise.
“The hungriest people in the region are also the thirstiest. People have depleted their last penny as they lost their crops and animals. They now have to pay vendors who continuously hike water prices,” Oxfam in Africa Director Fati N’Zi-Hassane said.
According to Oxfam, the drought experienced for the past two years has already killed more than 13 million livestock, dried up thousands of hectares of crops and driven 1.75 million people from their homes in search of water and food.
Oxfam says while famine has so far been averted in countries like Somalia, mostly due to an increase in humanitarian response, only 20 per cent of the response appeal for Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has been funded to date.
This, he said, will derail efforts to help millions of people on the brink.
“The world should not turn its back on East Africa. Without an urgent and major increase in aid, many more people will die of hunger and thirst,” he said.
Oxfam warns that the worsening hunger crisis in East Africa is a harsh reminder that the need for long-term solutions beyond immediate humanitarian relief to help people cope with the recurrent shocks.
This comes even as Kenya joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Water Day.
According to the UN, World Water Day 2023 is about accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.4 million people globally die annually and 74 million will have their lives shortened by diseases related to poor water, sanitation and hygiene.