2000 Lamu residents in dire need of food, water

Wednesday March 18 2020

Pandanguo village elder Aden Golja speaking during a meeting on February 6, 2019. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP


More than 2000 residents of Pandanguo village in Lamu West are facing acute shortage of food and water.

The residents, mainly from the Boni community, have for the past four years depended on relief food from the national government and non-governmental organisations.

The Boni have for decades been hunting, gathering wild fruits.  

Their activities were, however, halted since 2015 shortly after the national government launched an ongoing multi-agency security operation Linda Boni which is meant to flush out Al-Shabaab militants believed to be hiding inside the dense Boni Forest. Boni Forest was declared a no-go zone due to security reasons.


Efforts by the community to embrace modern farming have proved futile following drought. The villagers told the Nation that all their crops had dried up due to drought.

Pandanguo village elder Aden Golja said they had been forced to feed on fish only.

Mr Golja said they trek long distances in search of the fish in lakes, ponds, rivers and in the Indian Ocean to feed their families.

He said their lives have become unbearable, especially after the government and donors stopped giving them relief food several months ago.

Before the government launched the Linda Boni Operation, it pledged to support the Boni community.


 “All our crops dried up following the continued drought. We are now starving. The last consignment of food was brought here by the Kenya Red Cross in September last year, we are struggling to survive,” said Mr Golja.

He added: “If the government stopped the distribution of relief food to the Bonis, then we expect them to allow us access to the forest. We want to resume our traditional way of life including hunting, gathering and harvesting honey to sustain our families.”

Mr Hamisi Shalo said they have to constantly go looking for fish in any available water mass to feed their families.

Mr Shalo appealed to the government and donors to restore the food supplies and save them from the hunger.


“We only eat fish and nothing else because that’s the only food available. Let the government give us relief food,” said Mr Shalo.

Pandanguo Boni Community spokesperson Ali Sharuti said they had no clean water for drinking since many water bodies had dried up.

Mr Shauruti said that the only well remaining has saline water.   

They are now worried that the situation might lead into an outbreak of water borne diseases.

A spot check by the Nation has revealed that some pupils no longer stay in school since they have to join their parents in search of food and water.

“Our children join us in search of food and water. By the time we come back home with some fish and water it is already past noon and school time is long gone,” said Mr Sharuti.