Climate change ravages land and livelihoods of Kenya’s nomadic herders

As climate talks continue in Nairobi, Kenya, the world’s climate-change canaries aren’t far away. Severe floods in the country’s northern and coastal regions have killed more than 20 people and forced 60,000 to relocate over the last few weeks, and a flood-drought cycle is disrupting a traditional way of life for 3 million nomadic herders in the north. “These kinds of extreme flooding are the kind of events that are consistent with scientific forecasts on climate change,” says Nick Nuttall of the U.N. Environment Program. When the floods go, drought comes: one region has seen a fourfold increase in drought in the last 25 years, according to research by Christian Aid, and drought has also forced some 500,000 people to abandon their wandering ways. Not surprisingly, things are getting ugly: livestock raids have killed at least 150 people in the past five months, and violent clashes have erupted over water. It is, says Christian Aid’s Andrew Pendleton, the “climate-change version of Rwanda.”