Nick Guttmann: People have been losing all their animals to the drought

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The Independent Online

We've seen a huge influx of people in the last few months. This week I was at Dadaab Camp in northern Kenya, which is extremely overcrowded, and people have put up makeshift shelters. The camps were built for 90,000 people but there are now up to 500,000 here. They're fleeing the conflict; fleeing drought.

The people arriving here are in a bad way. They've lost everything and there are lots of cases of malnutrition. Many have travelled hundreds of kilometres to get here.

Some of the wealthier ones have transport but I spoke to one woman who came here in a donkey cart. The donkey died on the way so she had to walk the rest. People have been losing all their animals to the drought.

It's not just Somalia. On our way across northern Kenya, we met a man at a small reservoir who had 30 cattle. He told us that he had 3,000 when this crisis began, before three failed rainy seasons. He expected to lose them too. It was the only water for miles and miles around.

I went to another area where I had been two years ago when I saw gazelles and goats grazing. This time it was completely parched.

Different militias are adding to the problems in Somalia. One woman told us that she'd been beaten up on the way to the camp. Others had their possessions stolen. Aid agencies have struggled to work in Somalia because the Shabaab (Islamist fighters) have not allowed agencies to work there.

Nick Guttmann is head of emergencies at Christian Aid