Dark clouds hung above the village, signaling the advent of the rainy season. To the untrained eye, it looked a predictable sight — and yet, the rain did not fall.
It rained in May, enough for the crops to sprout. Then it stopped, and the sun scorched the surface. Four months later, most plants were drooping, and others were long dead.
In September 2021, Kenya’s president declared the drought a national disaster.
This announcement followed failed rains for the third consecutive season in eastern and northern Kenya. Critical drought conditions have caused worsening food security for about 3.5 million people. A major locust invasion in 2021 and 2022, the first in 75 years, led to the further loss of crops.
The situation on the ground is now desperate. Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority estimates that close to 1 million children under age 5 from 12 affected counties are acutely malnourished.
Rain Used To Be Predictable
Catherine, a single mother of three, lives with her daughters and mother in one of those affected counties. Her 8-year-old daughter, Stella, is sponsored through Compassion.
Catherine farms millet, cowpeas and green grams (mung beans) every year. “Rain used to be predictable. It rained consistently, and I knew when to plant and harvest,” she says.
Things have been different since 2021.