Climate Change and its effect in Turkana


Turkana County is one of the arid and semi-arid regions of Northwestern Kenya associated with warm and hot climates. It receives low annual and erratic rainfalls and the rate of evaporation during the day is extremely high.

The County’s topographic elevation is approximately 932m and 3,734ft above the sea level attributing to the high temperatures of  between 20°C to 41°C that averages to 30.5°C annually ranking it slightly below Mandera County which is on top of the meteorological chart with the highest record of upto 41.6°C annually.

The livelihood of the Turkana people majorly depends on pastoralism and rain-fed crops that has for years increased their vulnerability to the constant climatic changes. Unfortunately, the aftermath of these climatic changes has been the rainfall experiences  that have been unpredictable and when they rained, it has always been extremely devastating and prolonged leading to floods which threatens the livelihoods of the people and their livestock as well as destruction of infrastructure and properties of the Turkana people.

Having mentioned before that the rains are unpredictable, it’s been therefore unreliable over the years in terms of timing and space that as made it impossible for the weatherman to track and provide accurate data and prior warnings to the public before the actual downpour. These rainfalls usually varies between 52mm and 480mm which averages to 250mm per annum.

The county experiences three dry spells that is, one marked around January, February and September a season referred to as akamu in the turkana dialect while rain seasons are experienced in two phases whereby the long rains are experienced in March, April and the other one in July while short rains are experienced on October and November a season referred to as akiporo.

Consequently, the effects of these climatic changes in Turkana county has been unpredictable rainfalls and when they fall the effects are extremely catastrophic, prolonged dry spells as well as  high temperatures during the daytime.

Due to the repeated cycle of inadequate rains and sometimes none, it has impacted the residents of Turkana both in the rural and urban Settlements negatively cascading to the neighboring communities. The effects brought about by the ever-fluctuating climatic conditions include loss pasture leading to livestock starvation, reduced milk yield, drying of water catchment areas causing water scarcity for both social and economic uses. As a result of the shortage in water for both human and livestock as well as pasture and food, scramble for these resources has been the epicenter for conflict between the Turkana and the neighboring communities and countries as each of them fight for control of these resources as witnessed recently between the Turkana and the Pokots.

In spite of the devastating effects to the livelihood of the Turkana people, still there is chance for redemption by ensuring that infrastructure like dams are put in place for water harvesting during the rainy season, growing crops that mature within a short time, focusing on drought tolerant crops like sorghum and proper drainage infrastructure.


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