PURAPUL-In the dust bowl of Kenya’s drought-stricken north, the people of Purapul are edging closer to starvation, surviving on nothing but wild berries as their children waste away from hunger. Loka Metir knows the bitter fruits make her children sick, further weakening their frail condition. But it hasn’t rained properly in three years, and there’s simply nothing else to eat. “This is the only way to survive,” the mother of five told AFP in Purapul, a scattering of thatch huts a two-day walk from the nearest town in the bone-dry Marsabit county. At least 18 million people across the Horn of Africa are facing severe hunger as the worst drought in 40 years devastates the region. Over four million are in Kenya’s often-forgotten north, a number that has climbed steadily this year, as the crisis struggles to attract national attention in the midst of a hard-fought — and expensive — election campaign. Nearly 950,000 children under five years and 134,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women in Kenya’s remote arid regions are acutely malnourished and need aid, according to government figures from June.