The county of Turkana, in northwest Kenya, is among the poorest, most marginalised, and most malnourished in the country.
Its arid climate and soil conditions render most of its terrain unsuitable for growing crops, so almost all of the county’s 1.3 million inhabitants raise livestock. And although pastoralism accounts for an estimated 12 percent of Kenya’s GDP, successive governments have long neglected the sector as backward, and denied it adequate investment in key areas such as animal health, market access, and water management.
As a result, the people of Turkana and, to an even greater extent, their livestock, are particularly vulnerable when drought strikes � as it did during much of 2017.
Turkana is the epicentre of the drought, a senior official in the Turkana County government told IRIN, referring to the natural disaster that gripped much of East Africa last year.
While conditions have improved significantly since the reporting for this collection of stories was conducted, about half a million goats, sheep, cows, and camels perished in 2017, leaving many households destitute.
If recent years are anything to go by, droughts are likely to continue being frequent. They used to happen about once a decade, but, thanks to the effects of climate change, are now happening more regularly and with greater impact.
What follows is a selection of IRIN’s recent multimedia coverage of Turkana County, based on several field reporting trips.
As well as giving voice to livestock herders and fishermen, who provide a ground-level account of their challenges and hopes, the series also provides detailed analysis of the impact of climate change and of recent economic developments, notably in the petroleum sector.