Kenya Ecological Problems
Will climate change bring more rain?
Despite the country’s location on the equator, the climate and vegetation are only tropical and humid on the coast and Lake Victoria. Agriculture is possible in a narrow strip in the hinterland of the coast and especially in the fertile highlands, with land conflicts particularly concentrated in the Rift Valley. The FAO provides updates on the natural and legal framework conditions for agricultural production, animal husbandry and fishing.
The Kenyan highlands with their more moderate climate were also attractive to the European settlers during the colonial era. The northern half of the country between Lamu and Lodwar is barren to desert-like and therefore only sparsely populated. Rain and rain predictions are becoming more and more important, especially to determine when to sow and plant. Current information about the weather and forecasts can be obtained from the information provided by the State Meteorological Office and the Society for Meteorology. Drought periods cause hunger crises, especially in the northern regions. For many years the World Food Program had to help out more people in Kenya with food than in civil war-ridden Sudan, for example; the national and regional exchange and trade in food is inadequate. In addition, even if food is available, poorer drought victims cannot buy it.
The question of price for the future is how climate change will affect Kenya. In Ethiopia, due to the – often criticized as overly dramatic – forecasts by climate researchers, the pressure on land as a resource has already increased, because in East Africa, unlike in southern Africa, more rain is expected in certain locations than before; A similar development could experience areas where temperatures have risen by one degree on average since 1960 and where more extreme weather events can be expected in the future. With a national climate action plan, as part of the Vision 2030 development program, the government is preparing for the changes. The rainy seasons have not started reliably for some time, so that the farmers can never be sure that they have sown at the right time. The latest report of the International Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC) from 2018 contains more precise forecasts.
The Kenyan government has long been very aware of the climate problem and has developed strategies against climate change and for climate change adaptation, as the Grantham Research Institute of the London School of Economics found in an analytical overview on the occasion of the Paris Climate Summit in 2015. Parts of the population are also aware of the problem – and who is responsible for it, including the Europeans with their resource consumption. According to media reports, there is therefore a class action against the EU, which Kenyan drought victims are also said to have joined. The reports do not mention that the devastating deforestation in Kenya does not run counter to the harmful climate phenomena, but exacerbates them.
The national symbols play a far greater role in everyday life than in Germany, for example. If the national anthem is played – even if it is at the Christmas party of a kindergarten – all those present have to stand up and stand until the last note. The same applies when the national flag is hoisted.
National flag of Kenya
Maasai shield in the national colors of green-red-black
The respective presidential portraits must be counted as part of the national iconography, above all that of the state founder Jomo Kenyatta, who adorned every banknote for a long time. The political icon is now being replaced by Kenya’s wild animals. In contrast to the times of Daniel Arap Mois, the personality cult around the head of state is no longer as strictly pursued. In the past, portraits of the incumbent president were visibly hung in every shop and office, today this is no longer a must, even if many still adhere to it.
The Kenyan flag and the national coat of arms are partly based on the Ethiopian symbols (red, green, lions); Jomo Kenyatta greatly adored Emperor Haile Selassie Mariam. Ethiopia, which was never colonized, was a model for the pan-African independence fighters. The coat of arms expresses readiness to fight and defend and, with the slogan Harambee, appeals to the national unity that the multi-ethnic country first had to create in 1963. Harambee means something like “Let’s all pull together”, everyone lends a hand and builds up the country. Unfortunately, the approach was later discredited by dubious fundraising events, called Harambee charity festivals, which ultimately served the purposes of corruption.
Many Kenyans interpret the colors of the Kenyan flag as follows: black stands for the fact that Kenya is an African country, red for the suffering in the struggle for independence and green for the future and fertility of the country. The shield with the two spears stands for the African tradition and the defensive strength of Kenyan warriors.
In the Kenyan national anthem, the melody of which is traced back to a Pokomo folk song, unity and a future time of abundance are conjured up several times. You can find the text of the hymn in Kiswahili and English online, as well as the melody as an instrumental version or sung by children in a rural school.