Generation Vegan’s WhatsApp group, where colleagues traditionally share funny memes and heartfelt solidarity, has taken on a much more serious tone of late. Jack Lekishon, our Kenya Country Manager, has been sharing with us the desperate situation both in his country and across the Horn of Africa, as the longest drought in decades takes a hold.
The Worst Drought in 40 Years
“No water! No life!” Jack wrote as he shared with us a photo of two children lying on the ground drinking water from a muddy hole. For those of us who can rely on getting fresh water at the turn of a faucet, it is a truly shocking image.
And it’s not just people suffering. Large areas of Kenya are pastoral but cows require huge amounts of water to survive. Already 1.5 million farmed animals have died through lack of water, while hundreds of elephants, buffaloes, zebras and wildebeest have also succumbed in wildlife preserves.
“Experts say we are suffering because people in rich countries have polluted the atmosphere,” says farmer Francis Mutuku. It is true that those most badly affected by climate breakdown are not those who caused the crisis.
Food Shortages in Kenya
With a lack of water inevitably comes crop failure and the need for farmers to change what and when they plant. But wild animals are desperate for food too, and Mutuku, told The Guardian that they eat what he grows and have even destroyed his water storage unit in their desperation to drink. He’d never had trouble with elephants before because there was enough food for people and animals but today, there is no food security. Animals are dying, 3.1 million people face food shortage, and malnutrition is rising.
High Cost of Living
The drought and the war in Ukraine have driven up food prices in Kenya by 15 percent. The cost of maize flour, which is used to prepare ugali, a staple food, has more than doubled in the last five years, putting it out of reach for many families. The President is urging the public to give him more time to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, but in the meantime he is calling for humanitarian support to help people survive this critical time.
Jack Lekishon, Maasai Leader
Jack Lekishon is a Maasai community leader who coordinates vegan food relief for Generation Vegan in Kenya. “I teach my people that animal agriculture is a primary cause of climate change, and the world’s leading driver of deforestation and habitat loss,” he says. “I tell them that our disrespectful treatment of animals and nature puts our lives and the lives of our loved ones at great risk.”
Throughout the pandemic, Jack coordinated meals for three schools in Maasai Mara, which now serve exclusively plant-based foods and are still supported by Generation Vegan. He also supported Maasai villages who lost their livelihood when tourists stopped visiting the region almost overnight. Today, he is working to fund and distribute food to those affected by drought and hunger in areas like Marsabit County.
Marsabit, in the north of Kenya, is an area that has been hit hard by the drought with 370,772 families facing serious hunger and malnutrition. Jack tells us that there are already reports of children dying.
Through his GoFundMe page, he has raised enough to be able to deliver 2,531 meals to the community in Marsabit, but the funds he has raised so far – a little over $2,000 – can only go so far. Jack shared photos with us of families being given half cabbage as there was not enough money to buy a whole cabbage for each.
Can You Support Jack’s Humanitarian Work?
Jack is a vegan for animals, for the planet, and for people, and he is a tireless humanitarian campaigner. He is the expert at getting food to where it needs to be but he needs funds to do that.
Can you donate even a little to help provide plant-based foods to people experiencing the harshest impact of the drought in Kenya?