Words & Pictures from Northern Kenya

Living on Rubbish in a Bright Red Dress

Girl at the dump

I met the girl in a bright red dress at the municipal rubbish dump one day, her eyes were smarting from the smoke and dust but she was excited to see me, or rather, to see what I had brought. There are no rubbish collections here in northern Kenya. You have to manage all your own rubbish yourself. It is a very good exercise in understanding just how much waste we produce on a daily basis. Here, as yet, there is not very much in the way of packaged foods. A few tinned items, some things in ... Continue Reading

It’s not drought that is causing the violence in Laikipia

Moving Livestock

Drought years are happening more and more frequently in Kenya, especially in the northern half of the country. Weather conditions are more variable than they once were, but perhaps more significantly there are a lot more livestock than there used to be. Either way, drought like conditions are now occurring every few years. Every time there are drought conditions pastoralist struggle to find enough grazing for their animals. I am married into a northern pastoralist family and over the years I ... Continue Reading

Traveling through Northern Kenya on the Wind Farm Road

The windfarm road

In order to get the large lorries needed to carry wind turbines up to the remote shores of Lake Turkana, the Lake Turkana Wind Power company have had to make a serious investment in road care. The old road that led from Laisamis to Loiyangalani was bone jarring at best, at other times impassable due to flood waters from distant mountains or rainy season mud. Long and dusty, it wasn't anybody's idea of a good time. The road they have made, though still a dirt road, is pretty spectacular. You ... Continue Reading

Why is it acceptable for schools to be so bad in developing countries?

A classroom in one of the best performing government schools in northern Kenya

The photograph is of a well equipped classroom in one of the best government schools in northern Kenya. Every time I visit such a school I always wonder why it is that everybody accepts such ridiculously low standards for education here. Or indeed in most countries across the African continent. The prevailing ideology of development agencies seems to be that if you build a classroom you have a school. Yet we all know that a building is not a school. A building only becomes a school when it ... Continue Reading

Guns in Northern Kenya

Northern Kenya 2015

I have mixed feelings about all the guns in northern Kenya. It is obviously scary, and when you hear of people being killed over some dispute in a distant village you instinctively feel that if only all the guns could be taken away things would be so much better. Then someone attacks your village, steals your livestock or asserts rights to land or resources that are vital to you. Then you find yourself looking for some protection. If your village is far from a town there is unlikely to be any ... Continue Reading