Drought in Kenya

Drought in Kenya
by Alex Bliss
About Alex

When  I visited Mama in the village of Kangaita on my return home from a visit to Nairobi, the weather that greeted me in Nanyuki town was arid and suffocating. I had to squint my eyes as billows rose into the air around me. It was no different from what has been happening in the rest of the country, the most affected region being the Northern part of Kenya. As I approached the village, I gazed upon animal carcasses belonging to pastoral communities that had gravitated into Mt. Kenya forest in search of water and pasture. Cattle die in large numbers here due to abrupt changes in environmental conditions, in part because starvation renders them susceptible to opportunistic infections. Mama had already given one pastoral family a place at the edge of our home as a tentative arrangement while waiting for the authorities to allow these communities to erect makeshift structures in the forest. Despite the fact that there was no pasture for the local few farmers to feed their animals, these communities stayed on, with the majority launching deep into the forest in desperation and fear of losing their treasured animals. Even now, the whole region is experiencing drought with very little government response – in spite of that fact that the country is preparing for general elections in August of this year.

The major rivers have been reduced to streams and are barely flowing. This poses a further risk to the inhabitants of this region and beyond, given that Mt. Kenya is a major water catchment area that waters the whole of Nanyuki and its suburbs. It is feared that if the rains do not come soon, the little food remaining will be depleted. People will have to survive entirely on relief or be forced to buy processed foods, adding a further burden on the economically disadvantaged community.
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