DADAAB, Kenya (January 4, 2013) — It’s been years since Fatima Suthi has seen rain. The 51-year-old mother of eight lives near the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya.
Suthi has been struggling to survive in a land where water is scarce. Drought here has killed all of her livestock and forced her, like other pastoralist families, to adjust.
Suthi has settled into a small hut with her children. The climate is so harsh, and the leaves so scarce, that the only way the family gets a hint of shade under the afternoon sun is to fill the tree next to their hut with plastic bags.
Set against this brutal landscape, a UNICEF-supported water project has given her hope.
At a nearby school built by UNICEF with funds from the Japanese Government, UNICEF has installed a bore hole that provides water to the broader community.
Among the lives improved are those of Suthi and her children.
“Without water, there is no life,” she says. “Now, my girls can attend school. Before, they had to spend their days fetching water. This water project has changed my life.”
UNICEF installed a water kiosk on the school grounds. A small fee is charged for the water. The revenue is used to fuel the water pump’s generator, to pay teachers’ salaries, to pay for a security guard and to help pay school expenses for needy children.
Mohamued Abdi Osman is the chairperson of the school. He also manages the water kiosk.
“Life here was very difficult before,” he says. “Now families are sending kids to school because the water is right here. After so many animals died in the drought, the only hope for nomadic families was to get an education for their children. The water kiosk, right here at the school, helps make that possible.”
The community is healthier, happier, and better prepared to deal with the continuing drought. And many children are getting an education for the first time in their lives—which will have a lasting benefit for generations.