A section of women in Mwingi, Kitui County, has turned to selling acacia ponds to camel herders to eke a living as drought continues to ravage several parts of the country.
The women have been spending cold nights outside selling acacia ponds to camel herders from North Eastern, who only buy the plants at night.
The ponds are only found during dry months of the year and especially in the months of August and September.
When they are due, locals camp under acacia trees to collect the ponds that are food for goats, cows and even camels.
During the ongoing drought, the ponds are in high demand as animals have been left with nothing to feed on.
Ibrahim Swaleh, a ponds buyer from Garissa, says the ongoing drought has left his camels with nothing to eat and he is afraid that some might die.
"Our cattle are dying and locals are also staring death for lack of food," he said.
Mwende Kimanzi a seller from Kandwia area in Kyuso Ward, Mwingi North, says she has not gone home for the past one week as she works hard to raise some money so that her seven children can have something to eat.
While decrying harsh economic times, the woman, however, said the sales have been low.
"We are here trading to be able to raise money for our children's school fees and also buy food for them, but times are so tough, our buyers hardly buy from us," she lamented.
Mwingi residents decry low sales
Mwende said they are currently selling a 90kg sack at Ksh500, unlike other seasons where they would sell the feeds at Ksh1200.
Mbuvi Mande, a seller from Thitha, Kivou Ward echoed Mwende's remarks saying brokers have made it difficult to sell.
"All these sacks here are of ponds that have not been sold and owners camp here waiting for buyers but brokers have made it difficult as they buy at a very low price," he said
Mande added that when the buyers buy directly from forests, they pay Ksh700 for a sack but now the brokers are buying from them at Ksh500 per sack.
He noted that collecting the ponds is very challenging as the acacia trees are thorny.
They have called on the president to hasten the distribution of relief food as well as animal feeds to save them from famine.
"We wish to go back to our families, but the drought has pushed us to spend nights in the cold waiting to sell our ponds," Mwikali Mwaziu, another seller said.