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 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.
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.
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.
Have a restorative day,