March 28, 2006

A Tragedy Overlooked: Abdul Qadir's Story

Abdul Qadir is an internal refugee in a village near Mandera, in north eastern Kenya. Every morning he walks to the nearest shallow well to obtain water. The shallow well is no longer shallow - it is now 80 feet deep as people dig down to find precious water.

"We are eating maize or anything that we can get because a poor man has no choice. For water we have to go to the shallow well. We go every morning and I bring back 80 liters per day for drinking, bathing, wudu (ritual purification) and for the family," he said.

However, the water is not enough for his animals which also need pasture to survive. In the heat of the dry barren land they grow weaker day by day.

Abdul Qadir’s face is drawn with fear and despair. At his feet lies one of his sheep – it is dead. He has lost over 70 of his herd and he fears the rest will die in the next few days.

"Our life is poor – in the house there is nothing to eat. I have eleven children to look after but I can only take food for three."

"The children are suffering. Some of them are ill because of hunger. My youngest baby cried last night from hunger – she is one year and seven months old."

Abdul Qadir is not alone in his suffering; every other family in Bullokon village faces the same desperate situation.

I received this story from Islamic Relief, an international relief organization that "strives to alleviate the suffering, hunger, illiteracy and diseases worldwide without regard to color, race or creed and to provide aid in a compassionate and dignified manner." IR is a trusted NGO which is affiliated with the UN and has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator, the largest charity evaluator in the US.

More on the the crisis in the Horn of Africa:

UNICEF-More than 8 million people across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti are affected by the drought. The severe crisis is threatening the lives of 1.5 million children under the age of five.

BBC NEWS in-depth coverage of Africa Food Crisis

*photo courtesy of BBC

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