By Joel Mzee
Residents of Bahati Kalale and Mkowe Arid School Hindi Warad in Lamu County were all smiles after their counterparts from Petangua Village donated 2.5 tonnes of maize to them to mitigate the drought scourge.
Pandanguo villagers most of whom are from the marginalized Aweer community were able to harvest 30 tonnes of maize from their 300 hectare communal farm thanks to the drought resistant seeds which were distributed in March this year by Kenya Red Cross in a bid to transition the community from a hunter and gatherer trade to subsistence farming.
The Aweer Community also known as the Boni are traditionally hunters and gatherers, a trade that is currently under threat due to drought and the national government’s directive against illegal poaching in the Boni Forest.
This has led to many Boni villages relying heavily on relief food for their sustenance regardless of whether there is drought or lack of it in the county
Speaking to the media during the food distribution exercise that will be done through Lamu’s Kenya Red Cross Chapter, Mzee Shaturi, the local elder and Mzee wa Mtaa in Pandanguo village stated that the food donation was a gesture of goodwill from the community to other drought hit villages and institutions.
“The key reason we as villagers chose to distribute relief food to Mokowe Arid Boarding School is because it is the main school that children from the Boni community attend due to insecurity in areas such as Barsuba, Mangai, Kiangwe, Bodhei and Kiunga,” he said.
The village elder further noted that the donation to Mokowe arid boarding school is in part informed with the school feeding programme initiative aimed at ensuring students stay in school.
Sentiments echoed by Alwy Fadhloon Noor, a Pandanguo resident who said the food donation is aimed at providing relief for other Boni villages afflicted by the drought.
“We are also showing our fellow Boni community members that it is possible to transition into hunting and gathering and subsisting on the communal land that we have,” Alwy said.
Also speaking during the food distribution, Kenya Red Cross regional coordinator Hassan Musa hailed the food donation by the Boni community and said that the relief will provide food for at least 300 Boni residents living in other areas within the Boni.
He further revealed that the harvest came from planting seeds Kenya Red Cross earlier this year, for which they gave the Pandanguo villagers maize seeds and tools that they could use to plant the crop.
Lamu County Red Cross Coordinator Abdulhakim Ahmed on his part stated that the relief food will also be distributed across schools affected by the drought crisis adding that his organization will soon rollout a school feeding programme in Lamu.
He further stated that relief initiatives such as destocking would also soon be unveiled in Lamu, if the drought crisis persists.