Making a difference in difficult times

By Ken Mellish

The area where FHF works in Kenya is experiencing a very serious drought. Because the area where we
work is geographically diverse, the effects vary widely. The most serious effects are in the northern area
of Meru County where the situation is described as “dire“ by our staff. People do not have anything to
eat, and students are fainting in school because they have not eaten.

In the areas where there is some irrigation water available, or there were some rains, the situation is serious but not as bad. People have some food but they are running out of feed for their cattle, and there is none available for purchase.

In all areas where we work, FHF is making a difference to reduce the burden of drought. The water
tanks have provided drinking water for many. The tanks can connect on an irregular to water schemes
from Mount Kenya, and this provides water for drinking and watering livestock. In some cases, our groups
could not afford to fill their tanks so FHF members paid to fill the tanks.

The members also have grow bags, which they water from these tanks, and as a result, have fresh vegetables. However, in the drier areas, Nkando and Kamuketha, they lack the staple foods, primarily maize, which provide energy for their diets.

In these areas, children are coming to school without having eaten. FHF provides vegetables from the
school garden, and providing the schools with water when they can’t pay their water bill. Normally, the
parents provide the maize and beans but many do not have any to provide. A FHF member donated
funds to allow the purchase of maize and beans for the most needy schools.

In the better areas, the parents have some supplies and one school, King’O , in a better area for rainfall, produced enough to feed the children for the term. FHF provided the inputs and they were able to have crops of maize, beans, sweet potatoes and well as green vegetables.

Cattle feed supplies have disappeared in most areas. FHF members' dairies went into the drought better
prepared. We have promoted storing forage as silage in plastic bags, to feed cows in dry seasons. FHF
provides training and all members of the dairy study groups were provided with a number of bags to get
them started on silage.

Also, many of the dairy members are growing alfalfa as a result of training and
being provided with seed. Alfalfa is very deep rooted and produces better in dry conditions than grasses
or maize. It also takes good advantage of any irrigation water available.

The drought is a real struggle for our partners and Farmers Helping Farmers is helping with both short
and long term assistance.

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