by Samuele Tini, Mani Tese Kenya Country Officer
We would love to write about our projects and the initiatives we are carrying out in Kenya, but at this time it is also our duty to inform and raise awareness about what is happening in the country.
Kenya is in a difficult situation. After two years of sporadic rainfall caused by climate change, the situation has deteriorated further this year.
The United Nations recently launched an appeal to save as many as 2.1 million people at risk. Since then, the news has unfortunately not been encouraging.
The rains are slow in coming, and local newspapers are increasingly reporting conflicts between people and wildlife. Because of the drought, animals are leaving protected areas in search of food and entering inhabited areas. Many animals, including dozens of elephants, giraffes and other herbivores, have unfortunately died in recent days, as reported by the national newspaper Nation. Livestock losses have also occurred.
As reported in national newspapers, political representatives from the most affected communities have provocatively called for the elections to be postponed and for the money to be used to fight the drought.
As if that were not enough, a few days ago (28 November) Nairobi was hit by a cloudburst. Pictures of cars sailing and sinking in the water have gone around the country. Some photos here
Climate change has become a reality. Our activities in the Baringo area are also affected by the severe drought, which is putting the communities we work with under strain.
In addition to the red-hot hammer of drought, the anvil of pandemic has also returned.
After the news of the compulsory vaccination required for most activities by December and after witnessing a reduction in Covid cases, the new Omicron variant seems to take us back to the world of 2020 with closures, flight stoppages and the resulting economic crisis.
For countries like Kenya, for which tourism is one of the most important sources of income, these restrictions, as well as a more general phobia towards Africa, risk dealing the death blow to already precarious economic activities. Just one month before the summer season in the southern hemisphere, they make us fear the worst.
Kenya has so far not been affected by the blockades announced by several countries, but the knock-on effect will be felt. And the positivity rate has risen fivefold in the space of a week, to 6.6 per cent, creating renewed alarm and rumours of closures.
The African Union has asked not to create panic and to avoid discriminatory measures. There are calls from many quarters to finally provide more vaccines to the African continent which, with the exception of South Africa, has very low percentages of people vaccinated. Training and awareness-raising activities are also needed for populations affected by the economic crisis and the impacts of climate change.
As always, we at Mani Tese are trying to work alongside the communities in this delicate moment, hoping for a quick return to normality, which will avoid further shocks to already fragile economies.