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CASE STUDY 4 : Kenya is struck by drought in beginning 2009


Since end 2008, the Horn of Africa is once again struck by drought. It has effected the vegetation in major part of Kenya. The lack of rain has lead to poor harvests, which induces food insecurity. In pastoral regions, the walking distance to water has doubled and pressure is put on boreholes both used by human and livestock.  Furthermore, the poor rainfall conditions have their impact on the country’s natural wealth. If the biomass production of the rangelands and natural vegetation decreases, it may no longer support the wildlife.

Examining the ’vegetation health and density’ compared to the average conditions from November 2008 till March 2009 reveals that the vegetation status in most parts of Kenya is inferior compared to the normal situation.

casestudy4_1
Vegetation health & density compared to the average situation, in the middle of November 2008, December 2008, January 2009, February 2009 and March 2009

In the figures below, the situation of Il Ngwesi and Tana River Primate reserve is depicted. The Il Ngwesi NRT conservancy is home amongst others to the black rhino, which has been recently reintroduced, the white rhino and the African elephant. The Tana River Primate reserve is selected as one of the environmental hotspots in the Kenya atlas of our changing environment. This riverine forest, which is the sole habitat of the red colobus and crested mangabey, two primate species, is limited by the depth of the water table.



Vegetation health & density compared to the average situation  in the middle of February 2009 for Il Ngwesi (top) and Tana River Primate reserve (bottom)

The graphs below show how the current growing season is evolving as compared to the average conditions. For both Il Ngwesi and Tana River Primate reserve, the vegetation health and density of 2009 is much below the average year.

 
Vegetation health & density for Il Ngwesi for 2009 and for average year

 

Difference in vegetation health & density between January 2009 and the average situation (in percentage) for the different land cover classes within


Vegetation health & density for Tana River Primate reserve for 2009 and for average year

The percentage change in vegetation health and density for January 2009 compared to a normal year per land cover type is shown in the tables below. For both areas and all land cover types, the vegetation situation is inferior.

Vegetation Class

2009 Month: 01
compared to same month in:
Average (1998-2009)(%)

Total Area

-20

Closed Woody

-23

Open Shrubs

-19

Sparse Shrubs

-19

Trees - flooded

-32

Irrigated herbaceous crops

-20

Vegetation Class

2009 Month: 01
compared to same month in:
Average (1998-2009)(%)

Total Area

-11

Closed Woody

-7

Open Woody

-8

Open Shrubs

-10

Sparse Shrubs

-19

Herbaceous with shrubs

-27

Difference in vegetation health & density between January 2009 and the average situation (in percentage) for the different land cover classes within Il Ngwesi conservancy boundaries (left) and Tana river Primate reserve boundaries (right)

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