As reported widely in the local and international media, East Africa is currently experiencing a drought which has caused hardship to many people in the region as crops have failed and grazing for livestock has been depleted.
The Citizen reported already early September on the drought in Northern Tanzania. The situation in Kenya seems to be even worse.
Last weekend, the owners of Onsea House visited Lake Natron and Ol Doinyo Lengai and counted at least 10 recent carcasses during a short walk in the hills around Lake Natron.
A prolonged drought has killed hundreds of livestock and is threatening human life in Ngorongoro District.
Despite losing hundreds of animals, devastated pastoralist communities fear that the worst has yet to come, and that humans too would soon run out of food in the district.
The ravages of the drought are clear in areas around Lake Natron and Oldonyo Lengai which used to be lush pasture but which have now been reduced to desolate stretches of bare land.
Within Kenya, the worst affected areas are mainly in the north and east of the country and include Marsabit, Moyale, Samburu, Isiolo, Mwingi, Kitui, Tana River, Turkana, Laikipia, Mandera and Garissa.
In Kenya the Kenya Tourist Board announced this week that the government has already taken action and has announced the launch of a Kshs 24 billion emergency humanitarian assistance programme to provide food and water to drought-stricken families. The government has arranged for relief supplies to be delivered by the army, the National Youth Service and the Administration Police to the regions hit by drought. The Prime Minister announced that this emergency relief assistance would go to 11 million Kenyans affected by the poor harvests due to lack of normal rains earlier this year.
It is expected that the action taken by the Kenya government will help to alleviate the hardship over the coming weeks until the next rainy season, which the latest forecast from the Meteorological Department indicates is expected to have started by the first week of October.
Tourist facilities have not been adversely affected in any way by the very dry weather conditions although the herbivores in the parks and reserves are facing increasing pressure as good grazing becomes scarcer and they are now mainly concentrated around water-holes or staying near rivers and water-courses.
The drought is an extremely serious problem for pastoralists and farmers and their families and the traditional tensions between some groups have, unfortunately, been translated in to sporadic acts of violence in the North of the country. Although such tensions in limited areas of the country have not affected and should not affect tourism visitors the Kenya tourism industry has met with the Government of Kenya to ensure that an appropriate level of security is always provided. With the continuing effects of this drought on farmers and pastoralists tourism is now of even greater importance to the economy and the well-being of many Kenyans who depend upon tourism for their livelihoods and to support their families. To that end visitors will find that they are especially welcome at this time.