Boni community in Lamu face starvation, plead for food and water

Sunday December 3 2017

Boni Forest in Lamu County.

An aerial view of Boni Forest in Lamu County in this photo taken on June 2, 2016. Pandaguo villagers in Lamu West have been hit by an acute food and water shortage and have asked for relief food, as they still cannot hunt and gather inside the Boni Forest. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KALUME KAZUNGU
More by this Author

Pandanguo villagers in Lamu West have been hit by an acute food and water shortage, following a long dry spell that has caused rivers, boreholes and lakes to dry up.

The residents, mostly from the Boni minority community bordering the Boni Forest, said they were trekking more than 20 kilometres in search of water after the only borehole in the area turned salty.

DISEASE

The residents said they had become vulnerable to wildlife attacks as wild animals were also searching for water and pasture.

The residents have expressed fears that they might soon suffer from waterborne diseases since they are now forced to use saline water for drinking.

Led by Pandanguo village elder Adan Golja, the residents urged the national and county governments to supply them with fresh water and provide relief food to save them from starvation.

RELIEF FOOD

The Pandanguo Boni Community spokesman Ali Sharuti said they sometimes go for days without food or fresh water.

Mr Sharuti also questioned why the national government was no longer distributing relief food to the Bonis.

When the multi-agency Operation Linda Boni was launched in 2015, the national government promised to provide food aid and other humanitarian assistance to the Boni community after all the villages occupied by the Boni, including Pandanguo Village, became Linda Boni Operation zones.

WATER

Mr Sharuti also questioned why the county government stopped a water distribution programme to the village.

He appealed to the county and national government to sink boreholes at Pandanguo and all other affected areas.

“It’s almost six months since we received food from the national government. The operation has denied us access to the forest where we could hunt, gather fruits and harvest honey. We could also get fresh water from the rivers located deep in the forest,” said Mr Sharuti.

“We are now left at the mercy of the Linda Boni Operation personnel who pledged to ensure they would supply us with enough food and water until the operation comes to an end. But I am surprised that we no longer get the assistance as promised.”

Due to the high poverty level and lack of balanced diet, most children are suffering from malnutrition.