Severe drought hits eastern Africa

Ten killed in clashes over grazing and water and Red Cross says several have died of starvation in Kenya.

    At least 10 people have been killed after clashes broke out in northern Kenya over control of grazing land and water sources, as the worst drought in 15 years hits eastern Africa.

    Police and local leaders said that the fighting occured on Saturday on the border between Isiolo and Samburu districts, which has seen similar clashes in the past few years.

    Marcus Ochola, the deputy police commissioner for Eastern Province, told Reuters that six "raiders" and four local herders had been killed, and that many more were wounded. They said that the death toll from the clashes could rise.

    Abdullah Golicha, a civic leader, confirmed that 10 people had been killed, but said that the split was five "raiders" and five herders.

    The clashes were reportedly sparked by raiders from the Samburu community attacking Somali and Borana herdsmen.

    In May, about 20 people were killed after fighting between Ethiopians and northern Kenyan tribesmen, clashes which prompted the two countries to tighten security along remote frontiers.

    The intense drought in the northeast of Kenya has already claimed several lives, the International Committee of the Red Cross says, and doctors say they fear that the number of people who die due to starvation could yet rise.

    Tanzanian power outages

    The drought has also forced Tanzania's state-run power company to announce daily 12-hour electricity outages, as low water levels at hydropower dams and a shortage of fuel for thermal power generation have made it impossible for it to meet demand.

    "The Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) regrets to inform its customers ... that it has been forced to extend power rationing to all regions connected to the national grid, including Zanzibar," the company said in a statement seen by the Reuters news agency on Saturday.

    TANESCO said that water levels at the country's main hydroelectric dams were almost below the minimum level required for generation.

    "By June 22, the water level at Mtera dam was only 690.88 metres above sea level ... the minimum level at the dam, which will not allow power generation, is 690 metres above sea level," said the statement.

    Tanzania depends heavily on hydropower for energy and experiences frequent power shortages during dry seasons.

    The country is also facing a shortage of natural gas, exacerbating the shortage. It currently faces a shortfall of about 100 megawatts, generating 800MW against a demand of 900MW.

    It has floated tenders inviting independent power producers to set up emergency plants that would generate an additional 260MW this year.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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