Paul Samasumo – Vatican City
Marsabit is a Kenyan outpost located in the vast desert of northern Kenya. The Marsabit county encompasses an isolated extinct volcano, Mount Marsabit.
“Climate change is real for us in Marsabit and sometimes when we hear people being against what the Pope is advocating or those who know what it (climate change) means we feel very sad,” Abba Racho told Vatican News recently.
Half of the animals in the County have perished
“In the previous years, here in Marsabit, we had rains three times in a year or even several times. It was usually cloudy and misty in the morning. But these days as early as 7 am the Sun is up there and very hot. There is no rain. For the last one and a half years, there is not a drop of rain in the entire Marsabit County. This means a problem in the community; this means the livelihoods of the people have been affected … when there is no rain, what happens? This happens: Our people are pastoralists, they keep animals. So if there is no rain, there is no grass, there is no water for the animals and people. All the animals have died. Half of the animals that people own have perished,” said Abba Racho.
Residents of Marsabit are this week waiting with bated breath as Kenya’s national weather service for Marsabit forecast rains for Sunday 20 October and said it would be “the wettest day in the week” with 4mm (or 0.2 inches) of rainfall.
Radio Jangwani – a voice in the wilderness
Abba Racho is also the Director of the local Catholic FM radio station, Radio Jangwani 106.3fm which means “desert radio,” in the local language.
“The name of the radio is both geographical and biblical because some parts of the area are desert and also because we wanted (it to be) a voice from the desert reaching all the people living in the desert. It is a voice like that of John the Baptist preaching the word of God in the wilderness. The radio does evangelisation but also gives information and education to all the people,” said Abba Racho.
Church’s concern for young people
The Church in the area is concerned about uplifting the prospects for young people.
Part of the problem is due to poverty, according to Abba Racho. “The poverty levels due to marginalisation and the aridity of the place mean that young people drop out of school early and those who finish through the help of missionaries, NGOs or well-wishers -after school, they don’t get jobs. This is a challenge, and a crisis as some of the young people turn to drugs and other anti-social behaviours,” he said.