Kenya: Rains Reduce Kajiado Wards Into an Island of Misery

Residents of three wards in Kajiado County regard the rainy seasons with a heavy dose of trepidation. For, while heavy clouds are generally seen as a blessing, to residents of this part of the country they are a harbinger of pain, death and destruction.

Whenever it rains, the residents of the three wards, which are dotted with traditional maasai manyattas and iron-sheet-roofed houses, are completely cut off from the rest of the country.

Matapato North in Kajiado Central sub-county, Mbirikani/Eselenkei in Kajiado South sub-county and Kinyawa Poka ward in Kajiado East sub-county are reduced to an island, with the residents suffering in silence as a result of disruption of their lives and livelihoods.

The three wards share a gravel road that takes them across River Orkeriai.

The only problem is that the river is seasonal and has no bridge.

In the dry seasons, the 50-metre-wide river is a lifeline for sand harvesters. During rain seasons, however, it bursts its banks, making it hard for motorists to cross over.

And the locals have watched helplessly as people and vehicles were swept away while trying to cross the swollen river.

Livestock have also not been spared.

The shared road links the three wards to Mashuru town, the nearest trading centre where one can get good medical facilities, a livestock market and offices offering county and national government services.

In the rainy seasons, no one gets into villages and no one leaves until the water reduces to a level where one can wade across.

Residents, many of who are herders and agribusiness operators, supply neighbouring areas with farm produce and livestock for meat.

Ms Jane Kisotu, 42, said women have over the years borne the brunt of the poor infrastructure. She said expectant women are unable to access health facilities during the rains, with some patients dying on the banks.

In an interview, a reflective Ms Kisotu stared blankly into space as she recalled painful moments occasioned by the residents' inability to venture out of the three sub-counties.

Tears freely rolled down her cheeks and not even her firm palm could stop the flow.

"We have seen the worst, from patients dying and expectant mothers giving birth by the banks of River Orkeriai. We always make sure we have enough foodstuff before the onset of rainy seasons," said Ms Kisotu.

Many Maasai women are unable to sell milk - in their culture, milk is women's business.

The education calendar is also interrupted during the rainy season as learners cannot access their schools.

"Most activities come to a standstill during the rainy season. Our children cannot access schools as there are no alternative routes considering the rough terrain and steep valleys surrounding us," said Mr Joseph Melombuka, another resident.

Again during the rainy season, farm produce prices shoot up in Mashuru town and the mushrooming urban centres nearby.

"Due to erratic weather patterns, rains fall unexpectedly. We are then left with our farm produce as we cannot access marketplaces," said Mr John Nkaru, a farmer.

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