(©Simon Kiwek): Again, the Northern part of Kenya bordering with Ethiopia and Somalia Marsabit is suffering under a heat period. Definitely, a lot of people are struggling, and lack of water supply and food is scarce: which is relatively self-explaining, because it is desert area. Only roughly 500.000 of the 54 Million Kenyans is living in an area of the size of Austria. Even though the region is often in the media due to droughts and absence of rainfalls, improvement happens also there on a vast scale. Especially with a new road opening the country for trade and new services. The road was of course built by the Chinese. With that work they seemed to outpace development of Africa compared to decadelong development aid from Europe.
2011: A man is the selling firewood for the locals to cook.
2011: before Chinese built tarmacked road, the Moyale highway was a rough road, feared by many. Even European, well equipped Four-by-Four were afraid to go there. The 800 km stretch is gravel road with trucks digging deep holes and the waves in the soil – hundreds of kilometers, comparable to corrugated iron. Local people were forced to travel on tracks, like Michael from Nairobi on these cattle trucks. In the loading there were long horn cows transported, while the people were stuffed on the rooftop. In addition, the area lawless too. Heavy armed gangs were vandalizing the area – Kalashnikovs are easily available due to the proximity to Somalia and force the people to go in convoys.
2011: A baboon is stealing from travelers and the watches out for new victims. The harsh environment causes survival strategies lacking all sentiment.
2017: Woman from the local tribe are watching the travelers from Europe. In the background at their feet there are containers to transport water. A technical improvement from India: since they are round, they can roll on the ground almost like a wheel. The woman do not have to carry them on their heads anymore.
2017: successful hunters on the Marsabit highway
2017: a runner from Nairobi is taking advantage of the new highway to spread the message of peace and national unity short before local election in Kenya.
2017: A picture of the Old Highway parallel with the gravel and the death bearing left and environment left to it…
2017: compared to the new highway built by Chinese road construction (still on the right side of the original highway is so visible). Still the environment is harsh. Here a sandstorm blows over the Moyale-highway
But the transport business is also flourishing. Instead of disused or converted robust trucks that had to be driven to the last bolt and escorted by armed soldiers, cab services are now flourishing. (Source: Vlad Karavaev, 2012)
New and modern trucks and buses are also in use. But even European buses, such as these from Scania are now worthwhile, as wear and tear and risk along the Moyale road decreased.
2017: the new highway creates new business opportunities for the locals. This woman is catering to travels in her cozy little restaurant.
2017: The food is rather unpretentious: rice, cabbage, an emaciated goat leg. But it fills. One of the big advantages of development: not only Coca Cola (it always was), but it is even cooled. Also transport business is thriving. Instead of worn-out trucks that break down on the road every now and then, busses that have to be accompanied by armed soldiers to protect the passengers from robbery, taxi-services are flourishing. Also new and modern Chinese trucks and busses are operating. The wear and tear of the Moyale road decreased exponentially, making trade especially with Ethiopia more profitable.
Isiolo represents one of the last tribal outposts of the harsh Moyale desert. Tribal men and shepherds gather here, rest and water their goat herds. During Easter they also celebrate together.
Rumor has it that Nairobian elites hold large herds of pointers as an asset or store of value for their money. These deplete water reserves during unforgiving droughts. This often leads to conflicts between herders of local tribes and agricultural production, but also conservation efforts of lions, elephants, giraffes, and buffaloes in the reserves of white settlers. In 2017, for example, the situation escalated and Kuki Gallmann, a world-renowned Italian conservationist, was shot by Pokot herders who were watering their herds in their own reserve.
Goat herds of Somali sheep, with their characteristic black heads and necks. These are widespread in the region, but their frugality makes them well adapted to the local climate with little water and food. In its tail, it developed a fat reserve that gets it through periods of drought. In 2022, however, the drought had lasted for years, and even this evolutionary adaptation did not help many of them hold their own.
Here British soldiers are entering the Cedar Mall in Nanyuki with fast food restaurant and Apple shops. From now on an industrialized Kenya is starting, a place with startups like in the Silicon Savannah, a headquarter of the United Nations, agricultural development.