Water Clash Evoked By Climate Talks

Water Clash Evoked By Climate Talks
Water Clash Warning Evoked by Kenya Climate Talks
KENYA: November 14, 2006

NAIROBI - Global climate change talks in Nairobi this week may be nowhere more relevant than a nearby settlement where water shortages a year ago sparked clashes which saw 25 people speared, clubbed or chopped to death.

Masai herdsmen and settled farmers say the rains have changed on the flat plains that spread uninterrupted between distant mountains in Kenya's Rift Valley. And a year ago drought lit the touch paper to old rivalries over who owns what land, triggering a pitched battle between two sides wielding machetes, arrows, spears and clubs.

"It's the first time water was the cause," said Zacharia Igeria, chief administrator in the 50,000-strong community of the Maai Mahiu region some 50 km (30 miles) from Nairobi.
Drought last year shrank the river Ewasu Kidong, which is Masai for "water jug", to exceptionally low levels, Igeria said.

Water and pasture shortages in the past three years have decimated Masai cattle herds by four-fifths, the herdsmen say. The dwindling of the vital local river coupled with farmers' plans to divert its waters to irrigate cash crops sparked the conflict 12 months ago, Igeria said.
Disrupted rain cycles are the type of weather changes many scientists predict will become more frequent as a result of climate change, as mankind releases heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.

Deforestation has also been blamed for more frequent droughts in Africa. Elders of the local Masai had never heard of global warming nor the UN climate change conference less than two hour's drive away in Nairobi, but wanted to give a message to the 70-plus environment ministers descending on the capital.

"We're not educated, we're not aware of climate change," local Masai elder William Sayo told Reuters and local journalists. "We need help from you to explain how we can live according to the climate. Come and teach us about what is happening."

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The bolded sentence above is exactly the crux of this problem worldwide. Ignorance about the real effects of climate change and the inability to or lack of will to get this information to people who need it and to teach them how to mitigate it is simply unacceptable. People should not have to die to get water. We should not be killing each other for it. We have what we need to provide water to EVERYONE IN THIS WORLD. What we need to do is take it upon ourselves to become educators.

I think that like the Peace Corps, we need a Sustainability Corps that travels the world to offer education, tools, and hope to people in areas of the world like Kenya in order to assist them in taking action to protect and conserve their natural resources. And we must also take into account that for many in this world water is a sacred fluid, and not having rain is seen as a sign from God. They cannot understand the scientific facts behind climate change, nor do they have many of the skills and tools necessary to harvest rainwater that they may get. And I ask , why not?

It is unconscienable that people of this world should thirst for knowledge as well as water and not have it given to them, especially regarding a situation that is a matter of life and death.

African Conservation Foundation

Water Scarcity Major Crisis Facing Africa