“There are many times that drought comes in my life, but this is the worst so far,” Bute said.
“Before we could manage by selling our cattle, but now we are totally dependent on aid from organisations and the government. If it wasn’t for Caritas and CST, you wouldn’t find anybody around here.”
Ethiopia and its neighbours in the Horn of Africa, including Somalia and Kenya, are in the grip of the worst drought in more than 40 years. The number of people suffering from chronic hunger worldwide has climbed to more than 800 million as of 2022. That’s one in every 10 people in the world.
According to the UN, the protracted drought has led to a water crisis, with more than 8.5 million people, including 4.2 million children, facing dire water shortages across the region. Water scarcity is killing livestock, drying up crops and driving families from their homes in search of water.
The water tank is close to Bute’s home, but he says on any given day, there could be up to 100 people in front of him waiting to collect water.
“Because of the drought, the water source isn’t very predictable. There is somebody who is in charge and who calls everybody when there is water. We don’t know when to go, we wait for the tank to be full and the announcement is made.”
“We drink it, boil shofero (a local drink), and we wash things. If we had more water, we would wash our clothes more, wash our bodies more. Before, when we used to live close to the Turkana Lake we would wash and bathe regularly. The water in the Turkana now is dirty and unclean.”
Before Bute was forced to leave his home, he had more than 200 donkeys, goats and cows.
“That time was really good, when I had cattle. I could always drink milk when I wanted. I had milk from the animals, and we could slaughter the animals and eat them as well. With my children and my wife. It has been two years since I’ve had milk and meat.”
Bute said that his seven children have left him and his wife in search for a better life. He hasn’t seen his children in more than a year.
“They are so desperate and hopeless that they have left us. They left us to find food, to go fish by the river and the lake. We are so sorry that we don’t have something for them to eat. We are sorry we can’t live together. If we had food, we would live together and live life together as a family.”