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Mr. Trump, Don’t Mess with Nairobi’s Rivers

Mr. Trump, Don’t Mess with Nairobi’s Rivers Photo by Joan Tonui

Have you ever swum in a river? I have. And you should do so too if you haven’t. Unlike a swimming pool, a river is vibrant and alive. Unlike an ocean, it is intimate. If the river is relatively small like the one I used to swim in as a child, you will be able to swim leisurely across in less than thirty seconds. You will not want to swim too far along the river because the next bend always seems to flow into a rather dark section with roots and rocks jutting out towards the whistling waters as if eager for a dip.

Sadly, you may have to walk for days across vast valleys and rolling hills to find such a river that is still intimate and fully alive. This is because there are people in Kenya and across the world who keep strangling such rivers plus their bigger siblings.

"And one by one the nights between our separated cities are joined to the night that unites us." Pablo Neruda

The people who are strangling our rivers are those whose decisions are making climate change worse. This is because there is a direct relation between climate change and the current drought that is causing our rivers to dry up. You see, when greenhouse gas emissions are released into the air, they cause air temperatures to increase which causes more moisture to evaporate from land, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. Although other factors like deforestation and unsustainable irrigation can cause rivers to dry up, climate change is the big culprit.

Nairobi’s four million residents are currently receiving a particularly painful blow from climate change – water rationing. Although most Nairobi residents especially those in Eastlands have been undergoing water rationing for years, (I fall in this category) almost every member of the Capital City is now feeling the pinch. Earlier this month, an official from Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company attributed this dry-taps pinch to the fact that water levels at Ndakaini Dam have dropped to an all-time low of less than 25 per cent.

Three Rivers 2

This unprecedented drop has been occasioned by diminished water volumes in the three rivers that drain into the swamp – Thika River, Githika River and Kayuyu River. Nairobians should be kissing the ground that these rivers walk on because they supply the water that ends up into their taps. Since Ndakaini Dam supplies 84 percent of Nairobi’s water, these three rivers are infinitely more important than the recently opened Two Rivers Shopping Mall, Africa’s newest biggest mall.

Anybody (including Mr. Trump) who harms the three rivers is basically harming four million Nairobians. If USA veers away from the green path that it had started walking on by speeding on with its harmful greenhouse gas emissions, climate change will continue causing drought and Nairobi’s Three Rivers will continue limping. Consequently, the water levels in Ndakaini Dam will nose dive further and Nairobi’s taps will remain dry. Expanding water sources for Nairobi will end up being a short-term measure because even those new sources depend on rivers that are alive, not dying. 

The kind of rivers that I used to swim in.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 28 July 2021 10:44
Environmental Africa

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