By Jeckonia Otieno
You can’t miss the churning windmills of Ngong; they swiss as if they are competing to caress the imposing hills.
In the process they produce a lot of energy, which is helping to bridge the gap between available electricity and the total number of consumers in Ngong and its environs.
Braving the cold morning on the slopes of the hills are three young men who are herding sheep and goats in the lush open ground that covers the hills. After the just ended rainy season, the young men are no longer complaining about pasture.
But a few months ago, all the grass was gone and the herders had to delve deeper into the scanty forest that patches sections of the hills for pasture.
Yet Ngong Forest did not always have scanty vegetation. Once upon a time, the forest’s slopes were thickly forested. Rivers flowed from the slopes and provided water to many along their winding paths.
Ngong Hills dwellers and the wider community that enjoyed the flowing rivers lived in plenty and life was good, for water is life. But now, that part of the people’s life seems to be told only in text books or fairy tales, for the streams are no more and there is nothing to show that there was a dense forest in the area.
Simon Ting’a, one of the young herders, says he has seen the great change over the years his family has been living in the hills. His family used to own countless livestock but with the dwindling of the forest and hence the drying of the rivers, conflict over pasture land, which was hitherto unknown, arose. Sometimes, even the forest’s wild animals and pastoralists’ domestic animals are in conflict over pasture and water. In fact, one of the rivers that has been affected is Mbagathi which supplies the animals at Nairobi National Park.
“When there is drought we take our animals into the forest to graze yet the buffaloes in there can harm us,” says Ting’a.
He says that before, his parents would graze down to the valley beyond but this cannot happen now because of the massive changes that have been experienced with the erratic weather patterns.
Intense Rainy Season
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