Words from Kenya

Storm Clouds and Uncertainty over Northern Kenya

Turkana Mzee Talking about Climate Change

The weather in much of northern Kenya is giving all the signs that the seasonal rains have started. This is great news for the many pastoralists that have been struggling to keep their livestock alive through an especially harsh dry season.

It is a little surprising though, as the rains here aren’t due for nearly another 2 months. A few weeks ago, when we were still firmly in the grip of the long dry season, I was in a village on the east side of Lake Turkana, in Marsabit County. There I listened as a Turkana man in his 90s told us about how the weather patterns had changed during his life time. He remembers the rainy seasons being more reliable, predictable almost to the day, you knew where to graze your livestock and when. Not any more. Most of the people in the manyatta where he lives have lost all their livestock to one of the many recent droughts.

We are all glad to see the rain, but when rain comes at unpredictable times or in unmanageable floods it becomes increasingly hard for people to benefit from it. We are told that with global warming we can expect the weather in northern Kenya to become wetter, at least in the short term, but that the rain will come in fewer and heaver downpours. Flooding kills livestock and destroys crops. Without good water harvesting systems the water all washes away in a few hours, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction. The current uncharacteristic weather is making that climate change future seem closer than ever.

Speak Your Mind