The persistent drought that has devastated the Horn of Africa for the past several years made it difficult for Zeinab Ahmed to feed her six children. Without rain, the crops failed. When the large shallow lakes where some communities watered their animals dried up, livestock, on which the herdsmen of the area depend for their livelihood, began dying off. Most of the men in the region had left in search of work or grazing lands elsewhere. If Zeinab could not find a way to water her goats, she would have no income.
Borehole pumps that once brought water up from deep reserves were broken or inoperable because villagers could no longer afford the fuel to run them. Soon, the cost of drinking water became prohibitive.
Though widespread political turmoil and corruption played a part, the primary source of Zeinab's difficulties was the collapse of the water infrastructure. TPRF teamed with Mercy Corps, a nonprofit with an excellent reputation as a first responder in humanitarian crises, to fund an immediate intervention. Mercy Corps trucks supplies of fresh drinking water into the region's most severely affected communities, delivering about 16 gallons a day to each family.
”Thanks to Mercy Corps for quenching our thirst for water,” Zeinab said. ”The price of drinking water has dropped from 50 shillings to zero. It has been a big burden off our backs.”
Cully Lundgren, Mercy Corps’ director of development said the nonprofit extended its drought response to help stricken herdsmen get back on their feet by providing fuel for boreholes serving both people and livestock.
In 2011, he said, TPRF's contribution subsidized the distribution of 17,826 gallons of drinking water—enough for 3,895 households—and fuel to power 372 boreholes.
”With generous support from The Prem Rawat Foundation and its network of donors,” Lundgren said, ”Mercy Corps was the first NGO to respond to the drought emergency in Wajir County and provide lifesaving assistance. Mercy Corps continues to help the drought-stricken community improve their ability to cope with the disaster and recover from it by increasing access to water for people and their livestock.”
Photos courtesy of Mercy Corps.