Kenya’s rich will survive, climate change will kill off the rest of us
4 months ago, 7 Mar 19:13
First, it was a drought, and parts of Kenya were hit hard. In the corner of Nairobi where I live, we have endured rather near-primitive conditions without water for the better part of three weeks. The story is no different in most other parts of Africa. That most fashionable and tech-savvy of African cities, Cape Town, is going to run out of water kabisa kabisa (completely) in a few weeks. Then the rains came and the pendulum swung in the opposite direction: We are being washed out and drowned. In the face of the ‘missing rain’ crisis, the big question was, how do we get out of this mess? FORESTS In a development that must have warmed the hearts of environmentalists, the hashtag #plantreesKE trended earlier in the week, a sign that a good number of people are troubled enough to care about what has happened to Kenya’s forests. Planting trees is just one solution. The question we should also begin to ask for the future is, how will some people respond to the crisis? When cities have become crowded and noisy, almost everywhere in the world people have moved to the suburbs. When criminals take over the streets, and governments are unable to stop them, fellows move to gated communities and hire private security. In 10 years, these people with deep pockets will do something more dramatic than they have so far. They will just go far away and leave the rest of us behind. COMMUNITIES Because I don’t want to be cursed as a bad visitor, I will not be specific but I have been to parts of Kenya where this future is already here. The first stage of it can be seen in golf resort developments at the Coast and the Rift Valley. But these are mostly designed as resorts, not “villages” or communes. We now have places where, beyond the bungalows and club house, small airstrips, independent water and — in some cases — electricity supplies are being developed. In addition, schools, small shopping centres and houses of worship are being thrown in. In the next few years, I see a lot of these coming up. TECHNOLOGY In Chile, arid parts of the country that haven’t had rain for 60 years are green all year round and produce more food than virtually every part of Africa. Among other things, the Chileans solve their water problems through “fog catching”. The technology is quite basic. They put up large mesh nets that capture clouds of fog, mostly in the night, and condense it into clean water. They then use it to drink and irrigate. Life goes on, almost immune — if not indifferent — to the moods of the weather and the fury of rain gods. In Africa, countries such as Morocco have moved to free themselves from the tyranny of rivers and lakes with some clever fog catching and a massive shift to solar power. SOUTH AFRICA When you google what solutions some brave souls in Kenya are trying ...
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