This summer, drought has hit East Africa once again. For the past four summers, East Africa has experienced diminished rainfall, with farmers and pastoralists throughout the region struggling to keep their crops and livestock alive.
While climate change is largely to blame for shifting rainfall patterns, government policies in the Horn of Africa do little to secure the fragile landscape, and ultimately worsen the problem. In Kenya for example, a recent spate of land grabbing has left hundreds of families homeless, as foreign companies purchase land from the government to grow water-intensive crops like jatropha and sugar-cane, sought in the developed world for biofuels. Such growing of agricultural commodities is occurring in previously forested land and biodiverse wetlands, contributing to environmental degradation, pollution of water resources, and the destruction of natural habitats for Kenya’s once bountiful flora and fauna.
In this video, Samwel Naikada, a Maasai from Kenya who works at the Dupoto Community Forest Association, describes how drought is affecting his community. Like many Maasai, Samwel has seen droughts arrive with increasing frequency, making the keeping of livestock’once central to Maasai culture’exceedingly difficult.
Here Samwel discusses the needs for alternative livelihoods as the Maasai struggle to meet the demands of their changing environment.
For more on the connection between livestock and environmental degradation in East Africa, read Brighter Green’s policy paper, Climate, Food Security, and Growth: Ethiopia’s Complex Relationship with Livestock.