Words & Pictures from Northern Kenya

Moyale

Storm approching Moyale at Sunset

It’s been two months since the fighting that left many dead in Moyale, there has been little news from the town since and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the problems had been solved and that people had moved on with their lives. Sadly that is not how things are. In my last visit there, a few weeks ago, the town was trouble free but the tension was all too obvious even to an outsider like me. Moyale has a lot in common with Isiolo. A small pastoralist town (though Isiolo is not so small ... Continue Reading

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