Kenya’s drylands turn food baskets as rain patterns change

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Rain storms
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Kenya’s arid lands were once dismissed as unproductive because of the tough climatic conditions in the regions that include high temperatures and low rainfalls.

Due to the harsh conditions, some of the areas have only been good for beef production, with residents over the years relying on relief food.

But the variation in climate has changed the fortunes of the regions as at least in the last two seasons, it has been raining more in the arid and semi-arid lands than in other parts of Kenya.

The areas include Garissa and Mandera in the north, Makueni and Machakos in eastern, Kajiado in the south and Tharaka Nithi and Embu in central Kenya.

During the October 2019 to January rainy season, these areas received the highest rainfall, according to the Meteorological Department.

Wajir, Garissa, Mandera and Isiolo in the north, for instance, received more than 30mm of rainfall in a day, leading to floods in many places.

And in the March to May rain season, Stella Aura, the director of meteorological services, notes most drylands including Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, parts of Marsabit and Isiolo in the north and the lowlands, Kajiado, Kitui, Makueni, Machakos and Taita Taveta, are expected to receive rainfall that is higher than the long-term average amounts.

Sorghum, chicken pea, maize, beans, onions, tomatoes, green grams, pasture grasses and watermelons are some of the crops thriving in east African nation’s drylands.

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