The Millennium Village of Dertu is located in northeastern Kenya, approximately 140km from the border with Somalia. The centre is approximately 95km north of Garissa (the provincial capital).
Dertu is a low-lying area and is characterized by arid climate with an average annual rainfall of about 350 millimeters. Before the 2006 short rains, the area had not received sufficient rainfall since 1997. Pastoralist communities in the region raise goats, sheep and camels that graze in nearby pastures in rainy periods but move hundreds of kilometers away in dry seasons in search of water. As the intensity of drought increases, the livestock population around the reliable water sources increases, causing overgrazing and environmental degradation.
The village is characterized by high poverty levels and for years there has been a high level of dependency on food aid. The vicious cycle of poverty is due to multiple problems including acute food shortages as a result of recurrent droughts, unreliable rainfall, subsequent floods with outbreaks of pests and diseases and isolation from markets. Malnutrition, high maternal and child mortality, and illiteracy are rampant in the area.
- Access to improved water supply has doubled between 2006 and 2010. Mobile clinics and schools have been put in place to follow the community.
- The proportion of births attended by skilled health workers increased tenfold.
- A shelter to store hay to give livestock a supply of fodder during drought was built in 2010.
- Nutrition has notably improved thanks to new farming techniques such as growing crops in sacks with drip irrigation.