Among the areas worst hit by the current drought is Turkana where thousands of animals and unknown number of people have died. The Kenya government has underlined the seriousness of the drought by declaring the situation a National Disaster thus allowing anyone with ability to contribute.

The Turkanas who live in region have long believed that there is abundance of water in the area especially along the rivers. This traditional wisdom was recently confirmed by geologists who said underground water in only two underground rivers was “the size of the U.S. state of Delaware”.

 But some “experts” has advised the government that the underground water is too salty and therefore unfit for human consumption. Acknowledging that the 2013 discovery of underground lakes  had brought hope to some of the 135,000 people in need of food assistance, the report continues to say “initial tests on a vast aquifer found in Kenya’s drought-wracked Turkana region show the water is too salty to drink.”

Ancestor Wisdom

The reply of Turkanas was straight: “Our ancestors have depended on this water since time immemorial. If it was unfit for human consumption, we would all be dead today.”

In the discussion, NGO working in the area have been quiet. Many, including the respected British Oxfam, have even been – or claim to have been involved in borehole drilling in the area. Indeed, by 1994, the number of boreholes drilled in area were said to be so many that there were questions as to whether the water in the aquifers could maintain them.

One report said, “Oxfam has drilled over 100 boreholes in the area since 2007, with a success rate of 70-80 per cent.” 


Now the big question is: Where are these boreholes? What practical experience does Oxfam have in relation to the quality of underground water in the area? We see no boreholes and we hear experiential comment about the water. The deduction is that they don’t have either.

It raises the question of the role of NGOs – especially in developing countries. Do they want to help end crises or to prolong them? Can Oxfam point out where their boreholes or come clean and own to the lies they tell to keep donor funding flowing to maintain their high living standards at the expense of the poor in developing counties?