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The pain of a village that destroyed its ecosystem

By Darod Farah | Oct 8th 2014 | 3 min read
Effects of Deforestation

Kenya: He writhed in pain and wore a frown on his wrinkled hairy face as he gathered effort to sit on his three legged stool. His back is radiating with pain, the reason he knows well, these are his last days on earth. Mzee Wario recalls and only can describe well how the effects of climate change have taken a toll on not only his life but that of his surroundings. He raises his nose into the air like he is trying to pick some scent, wrinkles form at the edge of his grey eyes as he strains to look at the horizon.

His is full of thoughts and nostalgic, he couldn’t believe that their once green and productive land will one day be a dusty desert full of bones and that the only birds singing in the sky would be vultures.

Mzee Wario was among a group of old men who had undergone government-sponsored environmental conservation program. From the experience he had what his people would put off as the white man’s stories. “we lived like this all our life, we used wood for fire, we ate the wild game, we had men who brought home a lion’s head and they were legends”, these were the remarks Mzee Wario heard when he tried to tell his people about how they were slowly bringing their livelihoods to its knees.

The forest they once called Rama had rivers flowing, huge trees, species of animals that were unique, fruits that made them healthy and it was indeed what made the village of Elema alive and kicking. Mzee Wario slowly took one arthritic leg after the other, his walking stick shaking under his bony stooping frame, he stood in the middle of the Rama and tears rolled down his face as he looked at the huge dusty trench which a few years ago was river Guda bursting with cool fresh water.

The drought has taken its toll on people and animals in Elema village. All the animals had perished, no grass nor water to keep them alive, the sun was scorching and turning every single thing into an empty shell, people in Elema knew their lives were going down the drain- if only they would listen.

Everything moved in agonizingly slow motion. From across the valley, word had it that some people had died and soon Elema will follow suit.

The government responded by bringing relief food, water and medical help. We saw huge trucks loaded with food which sent huge particles of dust into the dry air, it was a beacon of hope for the people who didn’t remember the last time they had seen food let alone eating. Huge trucks also brought water and for some time there seemed to be life to the once lifeless Elema.

Once the dust settled, the government embarked on civil education on the importance of environmental conservation and this time it wasn’t an all-male dance, even the two-year-olds were involved in a vigorous tree planting exercise, cleaning and proper disposal of non-biodegradable waste materials.

With all this conservation exercise Mr Wario noted that it is with their own actions that they destroyed their ecosystem and never again will they ever cut trees or engage in anything that will endanger their environment…this was a lesson well learnt for Elema village and they swore that never again will they go through that rough ordeal in their lifetime again.

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