Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Environmental crisis and violence in Kenya

Photo: Joseph Karoki. Man whose hands were chopped off with a machete, Burnt Forest, a Rift Valley city 35 km from Eldoret

24 Feb 2006 – UN envoy warns that 11 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania are facing food shortages because of a drought that has ravaged the region [since 2000]… after touring drought-ravaged Kajiado district of [Rift Valley] Kenya, where the fields are littered with carcases of dead livestock. Seventy percent of the district's 530,000 people were dependent on food aid, which needed to be rapidly increased, said Kajiado district commissioner, Ernest Munyi. "I have seen with my own eyes the terrible effect this drought is having on pastoralists, farmers and their families," said UN special humanitarian envoy Bondevik.

27 Dec 2007 - riots begin after disputed election in Kenya. World media emphasize “political” and “tribal” causes.

1 Jan 2008 - emails to Kenya Pundit: “Approximately 40-50.000 people are holed up at the compounds of St Patrick’s Catholic Church and Arnesen’s High School, both in Burnt Forest [W Kenya]. There is no running water, food and electricity has been cut. This means that people cannot recharge their cell phones and soon we’ll not be able to contact them… There has been reports of rapes and molestations. I’ve also heard that the Eldoret highway has been closed by thugs and that there is no transportion, hence people cannot leave this area. My family in that area feels very helpless and we can only ask that we spread the word and try and get some security in the area.
Other (unverified) news from KP readers:
- Military set to take over tomorrow.
- Forced circumcisions in Buru Buru area. About 20 so far. 5 people have bled to death as a result.

1 Jan - from Jesse Masai in Rift Valley: Those who celebrated PNU victory on Sunday are now silent/fleeing. Things are falling apart. Heavy fighting in Uasin Gishu and parts of Trans Nzoia
- Aunt and family have been missing 3 days
- Information blackout terrifying. Media friend says hands tied by government
- In Kiptoy, Mitoni Mbili, etc, in Cherangany, people locked in their houses overnight, some reportedly burning. No security presence.

2 Jan – Kenya Pundit blog cites Kenya Red Cross reports of 70,000 displaced, hundreds of houses and farms set ablaze, and road blocks every 10km. One email says, “My family are in a ’safe’ place somewhere in Eldoret but for how long? It’s like a scene straight out of ‘Hotel Rwanda’. The fear grips me even if I am so far away. I hear my young nephews asking me to pray for them and my heart cries.Where will they get help? Relatives’ homes are nothing but ashes.”

2-6 Jan – Looting, killings, churches and homes in flames in Nairobi’s slums. Joseph Karoki blogs, “I am a father, who can imagine the pain of another father losing his child. I saw the pictures of the little girls piled up in a mortuary and I could not help but think of my baby girl lying there, like an animal. Piled up on other dead bodies."

5 Jan - Karoki sees Eldoret mortuary so full of bodies they have to be piled across floors.
Police attack Muslim demonstrators in the coast town of Mombasa.

8 Jan - Quaker blog Updates on Kenya reports: "An estimated 255,000 people have been displaced countrywide [half of them are children]. Dekha Abdinoor, who lived in Kibera, Nairobi's largest slum and centre of much of the capital's fighting, said she was forced to move with her four children after arsonists torched their house. In Garissa [NE Kenya] food prices have increased sharply and the majority of people have experienced problems buying new stock… women had been most affected as they were targetted by looters who invaded the market."

Reliable sources
9 Jan analysis from UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs
: Kenya is the 10th most unequal country in the world. [Its] richest earn 56 times more than its poorest: the top 10 percent of the population controls 42 percent of the country’s wealth, while the bottom 10 percent own 0.76 percent. A person born in the western Nyanza province, the bedrock of ODM support, can expect to die 16 years younger than a fellow citizen in Central province, Kibaki’s home turf. Child immunisation rates in Nyanza are less than half those in Central...While almost every child in Central attends primary school, only one in three does in North Eastern. More than nine out of very 10 women in North Eastern have no education at all. In Central, the proportion is less than 3 percent. In these two provinces, there is one doctor for 120,000 and 20,000 respectively.
Wikipedia Kenya history and maps. Global Voices Online: If anyone doubts the power of the internet in Africa, they need to look no further than what is happening in Kenya right now… there was a media blackout. The only way to get any up-to-date news... has been through the blogosphere...

FWCC Kenya News , Quaker Youth blog, David Zaremka's reports on Kenyan Peacework compiled by Mary Gilbert, Updates on Kenya by Mary Kay Rehard of FUM
Wangara Maathai (Green Belt Movement) Peace Tent for reconciliation, Kenya
Christian Peace Teams African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI)
Christian Peacemaker Teams in the Congo and Uganda
Thomas Homer-Dixon and Valerie Percival’s study Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: The Case of Rwanda (June 1995)
UN Human Development Report 2007-08
Previous UN reports linked Darfur massacres to climate change.
On 24 Jan 08 at Davos, the UN Secy-Gen warned of "a high risk of violent conflict" in 46 countries with 2.7 billion people, owing to climate change and water-related crises, a further 56 countries, with 1.2 billion people "at risk of instability", citing data from International Alert. Click map for details.

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