by Kari and Melvin Peters
KENYA – In December 2016 predictions were already being made that the drought situation in Kenya would only intensify in the New Year. Below average rains in the past few years have meant that there is not enough forage for animals in the country’s arid livestock-dependent north.
In 2016, 1.3 million Kenyans were in need of food aid, and that number is expected to rise as high as four million in the months ahead. Humanitarian officials are predicting that unless there is coordinated action by the international community and NGOs, it is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
In February the Kenyan President declared the drought a national disaster, with 23 of 47 counties affected (including Marsabit), and has called for international help. The number of food insecure people has more than doubled; and over 350,000 children and pregnant and lactating mothers are acutely malnourished. Many children are unable to attend school because of the drought’s impact.
In 2012 it looked like the Kenya program would be winding down to a bare minimum. The idea to start a sub-base in Northern Kenya began in 2014 when an assessment was done of the needs in Kenya. In January 2015 this assessment was incorporated as part of the Program Development Plan; and in March, the position for a pilot/manager was advertised (and you know how that turned out).
In past weeks, the MAF Team has been making it a priority to get the word out that we have a plane based in northern Kenya. The story of Esther comes to mind; God’s purposes will prevail and it is up to us if we want to step up and be a part of His-story. “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance … will arise from another place, but you and your [organization will no longer have work in Kenya]. And who knows but that you have come to LogLogo] for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, paraphrase by Kari).
In African culture a person’s wealth is in their herds. The more livestock a man has, the greater his worth in the community. These simple people, living off of the land, do not have bank accounts; their animals are their life.
In a season of drought there is not enough food and water for all the animals. But re-education will take time and so meanwhile, creative ways of handling the situation need to be implemented like at a recent event that Melvin was able to witness.
He flew the Marsabit County Governor to the town of North Horr where he was meeting up with government representatives from Nairobi for a drought awareness and famine relief effort. They purchased a hundred goats from the villagers; the animals were immediately butchered and returned to feed the villagers. This did three things: reduced the herds, provided needed income, and fed hungry people.
We trust that, as the word gets out and NGOs receive the funding they need to help with the drought, MAF will be found faithful for such a time as this.
Kari and Melvin Peters (La Crete) serve under EMC Missions with Mission Aviation Fellowship.