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Articles by Ben Goldfarb, Yale E360

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This story was originally published by Yale E360 and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Makueni County, a corner of southern Kenya that’s home to nearly a million people, is a land of extremes. Nine months a year, Makueni is a hardened, sun-scorched place where crops struggle and plumes of orange dust billow from dirt roads. Twice yearly, though, the county is battered by weeks of torrential rain, which drown farm fields and transform roads into impassable morasses. “Water,” says Michael Maluki, a Makueni County engineer, “is the enemy of roads.”

Maluki’s axiom is true the world over: Where roads and water intersect, trouble follows. Roads cut off streams and bleed sediment; meanwhile, floods often erode roadbeds into muddy gullies. Although wealthy nations are far from immune, these problems are most severe in developing countries, where roads are largely unpaved and thus especially vulnerable to obliteration. In Kenya and other nations, the issue is exacerbated by climate change, which has amplified the intensity of seasonal monsoons a... Read more