East Africa drought hits social structure

March 20, 2006 at 9:46 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 20 (UPI) -- The severe drought in East Africa is also disrupting the social structure as people no longer are able to offer cattle as dowry for marriages.

As food and livestock become scarcer so are items such as sugar, honey, herbs, sour milk and cow's blood traditionally offered during wedding arrangements among tribes like the Masai.

Eligible men call the drought -- the worst in a generation that has turned grazing fields into vast expanses of dust -- as "the drought that killed the dowry," reports The Washington Post.

Humanitarian groups estimate 3.5 million people, mostly nomadic herders, are facing food shortages in Kenya alone, the report said. Herders are driving their remaining cattle into Kenya's capital Nairobi to let the animals feed on grassy traffic circles, while they build shantytowns to live.

"The drought and changes of weather patterns are disrupting a whole way of life," said Doug Keating of Oxfam International.

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