Drought leads to forced culling

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 27 July 2011

Butchered sheep and goats are strung up in a thorn tree ready for cooking in this remote north Kenyan village, as though the people are preparing a giant celebration feast.

“This is the worst drought we have had, and we have lost hope of seeing rain”

But there is no party here and the mood is grim: in desperation, the villagers are killing the animals upon which their lives depend, rather than see them die in the extreme drought sweeping the region.

“We are not happy to have to kill our animals,” said Elema Warrio, an elderly herder, looking on sadly at the 25 carcasses, the latest to be killed in a weekly cull.

“We would be happy if there was grazing and water for them, but since we don’t have a choice, we can only kill them,” he added.

Some 12 million people across the Horn of Africa are struggling from the worst drought in decades, with two regions in southern Somalia in famine.

Tens of thousands of people have died, as the international community scramble to provide emergency relief.

“This is the worst drought we have had, and we have lost hope of seeing rain,” said Galgalo Wato, a herder and father of seven, waving at the vast and dusty scrubland surrounding the village of 700 people.

The land here is too dry for crop farming, and the community depends entirely on animals for their livelihoods.

“In previous droughts we would lose 20 or 30 animals, but then the rains would come and the calves would be born,” Wato added. “It was never as long as this.” Continue reading

Water Tower Tide Turns

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
19 January 2010

Economies everywhere continue to dismantle the productive life-support systems of planet Earth, and Mau is no exception.

Mau, is the largest indigenous forest in East Africa, covering ± 270,000 hectares, and is Kenya’s critical ‘water tower’. Over the last two decades, the Mau Complex has lost around 107,000 hectares – approximately 25% – of its forest cover, which has had devastating effects on the country as a whole; including severe droughts and floods, leading to loss of human lives and livelihoods, crops and thousands of head of livestock.

Mau Deforestation. Photo by 'Threat to Democracy' under Creative Commons Licence 2.0

Findings of a government-led Mau task force showed that continued destruction of the forests will inevitably lead to a water crisis of national and regional proportions that extend far beyond the Kenyan borders; but Mau is now emerging as a possible inspiring example of how the tide can still be turned in favour of biodiversity and sustainable ecosystem management.

Taking steps to restore its diminishing water towers, and address rapid environmental degradation, 20000 tree seedlings were planted on 20 hectares as part of a tree planting drive in the Kiptunga area of the Mau Forest Complex.

Restoration will also take place in Mt. Kenya, Aberdares, Mt. Elgon and the rest of Kenya’s forests and water catchment areas with the aim of increasing the forest cover from the current 1.7 percent to 10 percent by the year 2020.

Source: United Nations Environment Programme