Words & Pictures from Northern Kenya

Samburu, Security and a Solar Eclipse

The road from Maralal to Baragoi

The Kenyan Tourist Board, along with many local and international travel companies, have done a great job of promoting the total eclipse of the sun due to occur on the shores of Lake Turkana this coming Sunday. Unfortunately the main overland route to what appears to be the most popular viewing location, Sibiloi National Park, goes through an area currently suffering from insecurity. The overland route that most individuals and companies seem to be taking goes via Maralal and on up through ... Continue Reading

Turkana Oil Protests

Turkana Pastoralist's House

Poverty and inequity make oil protests inevitable in Turkana, unless both government and oil companies take great care to support local communities in the early stages of exploration and extraction. Putting aside for a moment all other issues, legitimate or otherwise, that surround oil exploration in Turkana there is a fundamental problem that has not been sufficiently addressed. That problem is a perception of inequality arising from extreme poverty and marginalisation and, in the broadest ... Continue Reading

Cancer in the Chalbi Desert

Water Hole Near Kargi

There has been some long overdue publicity recently about the abnormally high levels of cancer in the Chalbi Desert area of northern Kenya (see this Standard article and this KTN video). There is some evidence to suggest that the high rates of cancer may be linked to toxins in the water. Many people believe that there is a connection between the oil exploration that occurred in the area in the 1980s and the contaminated water sources. It seems important that this should be investigated more ... Continue Reading

The Flamboyant Tree

Flamboyant Tree

Outside my house is a Flamboyant tree. It is aptly named. Once a year, near the end of the long six months dry season, when everything, including itself, is just bare gray brown twigs and sticks, it burst into flower. This huge tree, without a single leaf, buds and in the space of a few days is draped with large red flowers. They cover every branch like a heavy red snowfall. No other plants appear even to be alive at this time, in the last week or two of the deepest dryness before the rains. ... Continue Reading

The rise in gun crime in urban areas of Northern Kenya

Kenya Police Reservist's Gun

Illegal small arms have been a common feature of cattle raiding, resource conflict and retaliatory attacks in the wide open spaces of northern Kenya for the last 20 years. However the use of guns for criminal activities in urban areas has not been so common until recently. The dramatic rise in urban gun crime in northern Kenya is a serious concern. The urban areas of northern Kenya are rapidly expanding and gun use in this environment potentially puts a lot more people at risk than traditional ... Continue Reading