Nearly a month ago, the President of the Republic of Kenya conveyed the most devastating news to Kenyans. A declaration that drought had become a national pandemic was the most saddening not only to the directly affected Kenyans but environmentalists. Truth be told, this situation was foretold and the government knew at some point, the disaster of this nature will hit. Though it appeared like a mirage then, climate change has hastened its arrival.

Today, the region that experiences the most sustained droughts during the dry season also experiences ravaging floods during the torrential rainfall occasionally received. Both droughts and floods have had equally devastating impacts as Mother Nature strikes back. Inadequate preparation by both governments and country people has landed the country here.

The sight of a mother with her three children crying over a dried river after walking for more than 19km just to get some water there is heart-shredding enough. More so, another incidence of a donkey dying on its way to find some water left a girl helpless and hopeless. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We must brace ourselves for the worst.

The Role of Trees in Averting Drought

Kenya has an advanced technological system that can use remote sensing to map the areas that flood during the short torrential rainfall. With this information, a massive dam can be constructed during the ongoing drought which will harvest flood water. Residents will use the water to water their livestock and for general use. Also, the soils around the dam will begin to absorb the water increasing soil moisture in the surrounding areas.

Secondly, fast-growing drought-resistant trees can be planted beside the dam. Tree roots will hold soil particles firmly together and absorb moisture which will spread fast in the surrounding area enabling crop-farming, step by step. For instance, supposing first growing bamboos and acacia are prioritized, the environment will be different in less than three years.

Thirdly, the less humid conditions of the atmosphere attributed to the desert-like characteristics will be checked. You could be asking how this is possible. Yes, for the obvious reason of evapotranspiration from the dam, surrounding lands and transpiration from trees will be responsible for increased humidity in the atmosphere. A cool breeze from the trees in the place of hot air will not hurt anyone either.