Words from Kenya

After the rain

The rains have wreaked havoc across East Africa. Our part of northern Kenya is no exception, however, here at least it seems that the rains are now abating. The 'long rains' are normally not that long for us, the forecast and the weather signs seem to indicate that they are now coming to an end. Though these unexpected and excessive rains have left a trail of destruction and heart break, it has also left us with a lush and verdant landscape, of a kind not seen here for a decade at least. Children and teenagers have no memory of seeing such long grass or so many flowers. Rivers have carved new channels and places that never had water now do (at least for a while). Our village has two ... Continue Reading

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

In the last 8 weeks there has been unusually heavy rain over most of East Africa. In Northern Kenya we have seen very little rain during the last 3 years. Life has been dominated by drought, with recent rainy seasons providing no more than a few odd showers. Then in March this year the heavens opened. The forecast for the April rains had once again been bad for most of the northern and eastern parts of Kenya. We were told to expect poor rains and everyone was gearing up for the worsening, drought driven, humanitarian crisis. So it took us all by surprise when, even before the rainy season was due, it started to pour down.   Floods are dangerous, unexpected floods doubly so. ... Continue Reading

The tragedy of rain on degraded rangelands

The rain should have made me feel good. Here, in the arid lands of northern Kenya, rain is what we pray for, and when it comes it brings relief and joy. We have had very little rain in the last few years, rainy season after rainy season has disappointed. Everybody has lost livestock because of the lack of grass and shrubs for browsing. Water sources have dried up. The stress of persistent drought has affected us all. The forecast for the coming rainy season in North Eastern counties was not good, below average rainfall was predicted. During the last rainy season our village had less than a week of rain. This unexpected dry season rain was surely a blessing. Yet as I watched it fall I ... Continue Reading

After years of violence and drought there is a renewal of hope in this small community in northern Kenya.

The last 2 years have been very difficult for the community surrounding Olng'arua School. Violence has resulted in two thirds of the people who lived here being displaced, houses and possessions destroyed, livestock stolen and lives lost. The community was totally unprepared for the violence. Although there have been occasional periods of insecurity in the past (the last of any significance was more than 20 years ago), nobody can remember anything as bad as this. They were also left totally alone in dealing with it. A collection of mostly forgotten villages on the border of Isiolo and Laikipia counties, there was very little support from the police or either of the county ... Continue Reading

The Great North Road – A trip through the wild splendour of northern Kenya.

The 'great north road', also known (less romantically) as the A2, links Nairobi, and the rest of East Africa, with Ethiopia. It does so by traversing some of the most dramatic and inhospitable parts of the northern half of Kenya. The 507kms between Isiolo and Moyale take you through the Kaisuit Desert, over 1500m of volcanic mountain (topped by thick forest) and on through the Dida Galgalu Desert and the Shinil Plains, before climbing again into the low hills around Moyale, where the road passes into Ethiopia. When I first travelled this road you considered things were going well if you made the trip from Isiolo to Moyale in 2 days. The rough corrugated dirt road, strewn with either rocks ... Continue Reading