Life in the Jelgoji is and always has been hard. There is a single rainy season that permits crops, trees, and grasses to grow and sustain animals and people, but the amount and location of rainfall in the area is totally unpredictable; even in years when the overall rainfall is adequate, many micro-regions can fail to get enough, and people can lose most or all of their crop. Droughts are fairly frequent. In recent decades there have been several so severe that many cattle died, some people starved, and many people had to emigrate temporarily or permanently just to survive.
Not only is starvation a danger many years, but people experience hunger every year. Hunger is taken on voluntarily during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, and there are often times when for one reason or another people fail to eat for a day or two. Endemic diseases cause enormous suffering through pain, incapacitation, and death. The parasitic afflictions malaria and schistosomiasis are among the worst in this regard. Though smallpox has been eradicated, measles, whooping cough, and scarlet fever sometimes wipe out all the young children of a family, or many of those in a single community. Cerebrospinal meningitis can be arrested if the victim can be given the right treatment in time, but this is often impossible in the bush, far from the nearest clinic. We don't usually think of childbirth as a disease, but it is probably the leading cause of death for women of childbearing age in this area. Because people greatly desire to have children, pregnancy is also an occasion for satisfaction and hope, but an undercurrent of anxiety and fear is inescapable.