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ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS: Women in Isiolo fight back effects of climate change



Her resilience, courage and dedication could be seen when Morma Gofu, participated in a camel Caravan Climate Adaptation long trek from Merti to Isiolo-Archers Post.
Slim, dark and tall, in a faded white and purple flowered dress, orange beads on her neck, with a black scarf on her head, holding a stick in her hands, she quickly hits her camel on the back.
”Ahh Ahhh Ahhh ,” are the only words she utters as her camel seems to obey the orders.
Curious to understand why she decided to walk for 250 kilometres in the dry, hot and harsh weather.
Through a translator she greats me “Akam“.
This is the greeting in Borana language which I am to reply “Dansa” (I am fine).
A mother of eight and in her mid-40s, Gofu vividly remembers how life was bearable when she was a young girl in Bulesa Location, Aredida Village.


“Life was good then, we had many livestock, rivers were full of water. Ewaso Nyiro River used to be flooded and there were many crocodiles, right now the water is gone, people cross the river by walking and this is sad,’’ Gofu recalls. She adds: “I hear Ewaso Nyiro River; our only source of livelihood will be cut off by the mega dam project which no one has bothered to consult us for our views.”
In the recent past persistent drought has continued to affect people of Isiolo County. Very little or no rainfall is a challenge they now have to live with.
Gofu is not the only woman who is fighting by any means to build resilience on harsh climatic conditions that her counterparts are grappling with.
Fatuma Abduba, a mother of five and a grandmother of three, shares a similar story to Gofu’s. She owns five camel’s at her home in Kubi Matamuka Village, Merti District, Isiolo County.
“I decided to join this historic walk with my one camel because of the challenges we face as a pastoralist community,” says Abduba.
She observes that every day their lives are threatened with drought and that is why they are walking to send a message to leaders and other community members about the current state of Ewaso Nyiro River.
“If this river dries completely we will be finished,” says Abduba as she throws her hands up and sobs.
Both Gofu and Abduba have every reason to keep camels as livestock which can adapt to their tough life.
‘‘Camels are highly resistant to drought and rarely need water. They are also friendlier to women,” they say.
Although women are among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts, they can also be important change agents at household and community level in regard to natural resource management.
Their knowledge on issues and expertise ideally places them to be the best agents to deliver climate change and adaptation information.
Alexander Alusa, Climate Change Policy Advisor in the Ministry of Environment Water and Mineral Resources views climate change adaptation as a way to build resilience among pastoralist communities.
“We have several policies on climate change adaptation mechanisms that only need to be actualized with a law in place, “he says.
Alusa is certain that climate change law will soon be available to help the vulnerable communities have a place for compensation. .


About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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