Magadi Drought - South West Kenya case study

A case study on the Magadi region on South West Kenya, where at one point, there was no rainfall for 3 years. The case study includes:

  • Pictures of the devastation the drought is having
  • Precipitation map
  • Causes
  • Impacts
  • Mitigation strategies
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Preview of Magadi Drought - South West Kenya case study

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There are many things that can be done to prevent the serious-
INTRODUCTION The most obvious impact of drought is lack of water, because ness of drought on an area. The following are just a few exam-
after all, this is what drought is. If you look at the 2 middle pic- ples:
tures on the left hand side, you can see what the lack of water
leads to. The first middle picture is a picture of a lake in Cloud seeding - An artificial technique used to induce rainfall
Global warming is constantly current affairs at the moment, and we here Desalination of sea water - If the salt is removed from sea
Magadi, Kenya. 3 years ago, this was full with water. Howev-
the same repetitive things, such as their is too much CO 2 in the atmos- water, it can be used for irrigation or consumption
er, as the picture shows, there is hardly any water left in the
phere, but have we actually seen the affects for real? Drought is an af- Land use - Farmers can carefully plan their crop rotation to
lake. This is because of the lack of rainfall, many people
fect of global warming which we can see for real. In Magadi, South West help minimise erosion as well as planting less water -
haven't been able to collect water to drink and to give to their
Kenya, there has been no rainfall for 3 years. The situation is desperate. dependant crops in drier periods
animals, as well as supplying water to their crops. Instead, the
residents of the community have had to constantly go to that Rainwater harvesting - Collecting and storing rainwater from
lake to collect the water they need. However, it is on the roofs or other suitable catchments which can be used during
verge of running out. Once the water eventually does run out, periods of drought
Drought occurs when not enough rain falls to the ground. However, wa- the communities will either have to drink saline water, or go to Using Recycled water - Former sewage can be treated and
Drought land full of dead animals due to lack of water ter vapour condenses only if air rises into the colder regions of the at- Kiserian, which is about 45 miles away from Magadi. They will purified for reuse
mosphere. If the air doesn't rise, then no rain will form. When there is a have to walk themselves, or pay for the transport as well as Transvasement - Landlocked areas like Magadi can build
high pressure, the air falls instead of rising. With the air pressing down the water - money which they haven't got. This is why the canals or redirect rivers so irrigation can take place in
in a high pressure zone, no currents of water vapour are carried upward. people of Kenya in this particular area are so desperate for drought-prone areas.
As a result, no condensation occurs, and little rain falls to the earth. rain fall. Outdoor water use restriction--Restricting the use of water
Usually, we experience both high and low pressure systems. It is normal that is not essential (I.E washing of things)
for a high pressure system to pass over an area and move on, being The second middle picture also displays what the lack of rain-
replaced by a low pressure system. However, if the high pressure sys- fall has had on the environment. This lake bed once would Some of these strategies really could help Kenya from badly suf-
tem stalls and fails to move on, the sunny weather can drag for days, or have been full of water, but because there has been no rain- fering from drought. Although not all of them are feasible, such
in Kenya's case, years, which it then becomes known as a drought. fall in the past 3 years, the lake hasn't been filling up, and with as desalination of sea water, as the technologies used in
High pressure systems can be stalled by jet streams in the upper atmos- thirsty Kenyans taking the water so they can survive, it has all MEDC's to carry out this procedure is far too extortionate for an
phere. ran out and now alls that is left is a dry, cracked lakebed. LEDC to invest in, others are very feasible, such as land use
management and rainwater harvesting.
Droughts can also occur because of water vapour not being brought by A final effect of drought is migration. Like mentioned previous-
air currents to the right place at the right time. Water that evaporates ly, there has been no rainfall in Magadi for the past 3 years.
from the oceans is brought inland by wind to regions where it is needed. Before, white and grey clouds use to fill the skies of Magadi in
In Kenya's case, monsoons carry water vapour from the Indian Ocean in April, which is the rainy season. However, no clouds today
A lake drying up due to no rainfall
(to the East of Kenya) inland, providing desperately needed rain. If the are in the sky. Because of this, families are having to move
monsoons blow in the wrong direction, the vapour won't leave the Indian out of small towns like Magadi to go where there is water. The
Ocean and many people, such as residents of Kenya, will suffer from animals have moved away from Magadi. They have been tak-
droughts. en to the Mount Kenya region, and others are in the city of
Nairobi, where the owners are looking for pasture and water.
A final cause of Drought is because of mountains. Mountains can pre- By the time they come back, most of the animals will have
vent wind from blowing moisture to needed regions, such as Kenya. As acquired diseases, so very few animals compared to what
air is moving past a mountainous region, it is forced to rise in order to went to Nairobi or Mount Kenya, will come back.
pass over the peaks. However, as the air rises, it becomes colder and
the vapour condenses into rain or snow. The rain then falls on that side
of the mountain. When the air mass finally makes it over the mountain, it
has lost much of its vapour, and therefore does not precipitate on the
PRECIPITATION MAP Diagram showing how Cloud Seeding can take place.
The above diagram shows the ways in which Cloud Seeing can
other side of the mountain, resulting in drought. If you look at the bottom left of this page, you can see a map occur. Like I mentioned in the Mitigation strategies section,
of South West Kenya showing the precipitation levels re- Cloud seeding is an artificial technique used to induce rainfall. It
IMPACTS ceived in the year 2005. The yellow dot marks to spot where can either be done by ground generators or a plane, which dis-
Magadi is - the focus of this case study. The key indicates perse substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation
A dry, cracked Lakebed
that the town of Magadi only received 100mm of precipitation or ice nuclei, which in turn alter the microphysical processes
Drought can have severe impacts on the area it hits, and in Kenya par- in the whole of the year. This amount is a serious lack of wa- within the cloud. This technology would be excellent for a coun-
ticularly, it is a massive problem. As you can see in the top left hand ter. However, if we move a bit North to Nairobi, a place where ty like Kenya, but the cost may be far too much for them to
picture, there is just a desert of dead animals. This is catastrophic for many residents of Magadi moved in order to get water, this bear.
Kenyan people, because this developing country relies on their animals area received 750mm of rainfall in the same year - over 7
for not only personal use (I.E Transporting the farmers to market and
carrying food and water), but also to make money via food means. If all
of them are dying, none can reproduce and therefore the farmer is left
times more than what Magadi received. Finally, if you look at
the very top of the map, which displays Central Kenya, you
can see that the map is shaded very dark blue, and this indi-
with no animals.
This picture
In addition to the animals dying, the famers also lose their crops. Once shows children
again, Kenyan people rely on agriculture as not only for a source of in- just after a rain-
come in monetary terms, but also in food terms. If no rain falls, it means storm in Man-
that the soils get no water and therefore the nutrients aren't present, dera, North East
resulting in no crop growth. This, combined with the fact of the loss of Kenya, which
"Basic Processes in Physical Geography" Eyre and Gower
animals, leads to famine. Some of the pictures of famine are truly horrif- ended a 3 year
ic, hence why I haven't displayed any here, but we have saw what sort drought for them.
of impact famine has directly on little children, and the pain and suffering This rainfall is
they go through. what Magadi des-
perately needs Chris Cartwright - AS Geography Col 5
Unit 1.1 - Global Hazards - KVY - 27/10/2009


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