Tag Archives: Narok floods

Mau Forest Deluge

Narok is a dusty, bustling town, brimming with life for two reasons. It is the last stop for tourists before they embark on their Masai Mara adventures and it is home to the Narok County Council (NCC), richest county council in Kenya. Despite receiving between $ 500,000 and $ 1million per month worth of  gate fees from the Maasai Mara, the town still lacks basic amenities such as proper drainage facilities, regular clean water, decent roads and electricity.  Recently, Kenya’s own super hero, a capped crusader for justice known as Prof. Patrick Lumumba, who heads the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commision, sent his emmiseries to clean up Narok County Council’s act. Despite the fact that 200 employees were fired from the NCC with immediate effect, the clean-up missed a big spot, as the drainage system in Narok once again collapsed. For the fourth time in just over a year, Narok town has been engulfed by a a brown wall of water. At approximately 5:30 pm on March 30th 2011, the rains began; by 6:30pm Narok looked like a flowing bowl of soup. 

Note: The following pictures were taken by Mr. Saruni Saaya on his phone. He is currently a student at the Kenya Institute of Management- Narok. He is the first member of the Ogiek community to attend a management school. He is sponsored by REFUGE.

Narok Floods March 30th 2011

Narok Floods March 30th 2011

Narok is one of several sattelite towns close to the largest indigenous Forest in East Africa, the Mau Forest – specifically, it is close to the East Mau Forest, one of the largest and most degraded sections of the larger Mau Forest. In this regard, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Narok town experiences extremes in weather. I was in Narok a few days ago and the sun drenched the town, took on a light brown complexion from the ever present swirls of dust. Yesterday, Narok loooked like someone had poured a big mug of coffee over it.

Narok March 30th Floods

Narok March 30th Floods

Today, Thursday 31st, vast numbers of the Narok residents took to the streets to demand action on implementing proper drainage systems. They know that the NCC has more than enough resources to provide the basic amenities the town needs to function optimally; however, the erratic weather patterns may point to a deeper problem. The NCC has allowed the destruction of the Mau Forest to go on unabaited. In other words, Narok will continue to flood despite putting the best drainage systems in place because of the extensive damage to the nearby Mau Forest.

Narok Floods March 30th

Narok Floods March 30th

As the residents stage a protest in Narok, let us hope this action will spark a renewed hope in the ability of people to transform their communities and recosystems from within.

Narok Flood March 2011

Narok Flood March 2011

 

Have a restorative day,

 

Mukuria

Mau Forest Strikes Back

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Approximately 50 kilometers downstream from  East Mau Forest, lies the dusty bustling town of Narok. Narok has experienced flash floods 4 times over the last two weeks. The floods continue as I write this.

Despite the fact that Narok County Council gets between USD $ 350,000 and USD $ 750,000 in revenue per month from Masai Mara, the town was largely unprepared. In a town where 97% of the residence experience water shortages, the poor drainage facilities compounded the problem. The town continues to suffer from water shortages.

A tractor clears the topsoil from the first Narok flood on 24/12/2009

A truck clears the soil from surrounding farms from the first flood on 24/12/09.

Famine in Narok

By early December 2009, 130,000 people in the Narok area were facing starvation while 25,000 heads of cattle had died during a devastating 3 year drought.

March 2009

In March 2009, over 4000 acres of the forest in East Mau was destroyed by arsonists. The East Mau Forest is within the jurisdiction of the Narok County Council. The Narok Council called in the Kenya army to fight what was the largest forest fire to engulf the Mau Forest in living memory. The only equipment the council could provide were twigs and brush. In other words, the Narok County Council has made mediocre provisions in its budget handle environmental issues in the East Mau.

One tree can absorb as much as 57,000 gallons  or 216,000 liters of water from 10-12 inch flood.  We must restore the Mau Forest.

Margaret Mead once said that ‘a small group of thoughtful people could change the world, that it is the unrelenting passion of individuals that has made the difference’.

Have a passionate day,

Mukuria

Negotiating with the Mau Forest

The District Commisioner of Narok South Mr Ahmed Omar Ahmed addressing the peoples on Dec 17th 2009, Naisoya

The Chairman of the Interim coordinating secretariat on the Mau Forest, Mr Noor Hassan Noor, on the left, assures the peoples, during a tree planting initiative on December 17th 2009 in Naisoya, that the Mau Forest issue is under control. (Naisoya is approx. 220kms from Nairobi ) The CEO of Kenya Breweries (with arms crossed) looks on.  According to an article in the Daily Nation in July 2007, UNEP donated USD 1.3 million to a reforestation project. This project involved restoring degraded tracts of the forest, particularly in East Mau Forest. The article indicated that Mr. Ahmed, the District Commissioner for Narok South, was to lead the initiative. Locals in East Mau claim the project did indeed take off, but with an emphasis on exotic seedlings to reforest the Mau. If this is indeed true, the restoration of the Mau Forest presents itself as a complex issue.

The CEO’s arrived in style to plant their ceremonial seedling

The CEOs arrived in style to plant their ceremonial seedling for the tree planting ceremony in Naisoya. The one day initiative drew a good number corporates, such as Kenya Breweries, Equity Bank, KWS, DHL, Nation Media Group and the Green Belt Movement. The aim was to plant 15,000 seedlings in this section of the East Mau, the Maasai Mau.

The turnout was impressive. Locals mingle with the Nairobians to learn how to plant trees in their backyard

The turnout was impressive, with 500 people attending the initiative, at least 350 were cooperate staff members. The local community mingles with Nairobians’  as they learn how to plant a tree in their own backyard. The local community remained largely uninvolved in the tree-planting exercise as this is not a community based initiative The only way to break the vicious cycle between the community and environment is to provide opportunities to the community such as these.

Mukuria trying to resuscitate a dying seedling

Unfortunately, close to 30% of the seedlings that the corporates provided were dead or dying. Here, I try to resuscitate a dying seedling in the parched ground. It looked like Kenya Forestry Service saved on a good chunk of money buying tiny malnourished seedlings that will probably grow slightly bigger than a shrub. If we want to restore an indigenous forest, we need strong seedlings that will grow into large tree.

The Best seedlings were kept to the senior officials

A handful of robust indigenous seedlings were kept aside for the 5 or so dignitaries.

Once the cameras were switched off the cooperate world disappeared back to the comfort of Nairobi

If members of the local community were given a chance to speak at the event, the day would have turned out very differently. As the communities in the vicinity of the tree planting exercise face the daily struggle of putting food on their plates,the views of the community take precedence over the grand speeches of the dignitaries.

Narok after the flood of 24/12/09

Seven days later, Narok town, 60 kms from East Mau Forest, experienced the worst flooding event in its history. Above, a bulldozer clears the layers of topsoil from the main street at 10 am on 27/12/09. The locals say that dramatic deforestation in the higher surrounding areas resulted in the worst flooding event in Narok history. Narok is 170 kms North West of Nairobi and 50 kms from the Mau Forest. 1 person died in the 30 minute flash flood.

Famine in Narok

Two weeks prior to the floods, Narok town had experienced it’s worst drought in decades. It had not rained in 3 years. As a result 25,000 heads of cattle had died, while 130,000 people faced starvation.

In 2004, a 300 page Ngung’u Report on the irregular and illegally acquired land was released.The report read like a role call of who is who in past political power. The report claimed 200,000 title deeds were illegally created in the last 40 years. The report stated explicitly the substance of land issues in the Mau, one of which being tea farms of Mr. Moi on the western side of the Mau Forest. Since the release of the report Mr. Moi has made millions of shillings. 5 years later civil society activists are up in arms about the issue,with the Prime Minister leading the environmental charge. This is a ridiculously long time to react to facts that have been on paper for half a decade. If we want to solve the issues of the Mau Forest, we must dig very deep and uproot the system that nurtures and rewards greed.

Have a good one,

Mukuria