Not time to celebrate the rain yet

February 15, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 15 – The Kenya Meteorological Department has said the current rains do not mark the beginning of the long rains season.

Assistant Director, Public Weather Ayub Shaka told Capital News that the rains were as a result of moisture from the Congo forest and would last only four days before the dry spell returns.

"This is a dry month but occasionally, we have tropical cyclones, which is like a big system that has low pressures and winds tend to converge there," he explained.

"In our case, there is permanent moisture over Congo forest which has drifted to the East to cover parts of Uganda and Southern Kenya and that\’s why we are getting rains in those areas," Mr Shaka said.

He said the rains were being experienced in the Southern part of the country like Makindu, parts of Rift valley, Nairobi and Central.

"At least if we get them up to Friday, there will be some grass sprouting around, so probably pasture will improve slightly especially for areas in Southern part of the country like Transmara, Kajiado, Taita Taveta, Makindu but it will not be significant in terms of agriculture," he stated.

The long rains season which normally begins in March was expected to begin late- towards the end of March.

The current rains had come as a relief to most Kenyans who thought that they marked the end of the drought period that has left an estimated 1.8 million Kenyans in dire need of food aid, a figure that is expected to rise to over 5 million people by April.

The dry conditions have also seen a rise in forest fires destroying over 1,400 hectares of forest land in the last one month.

According to the Kenya Forest Service, Eburu and Menengai forests in Nakuru , Chuka and Ontulili forests in Meru ,Sirimon forest  in Mount Kenya, Mumbaka Hill in Busia , Mt Elgon, Kitale Town  and Karura forests had all been affected by forest fires.

In most cases, illegal charcoal kilns and arsonists were said to be starting the fires which were further fuelled by strong winds and dry weather.

The Forest Service declared a National Fire Season at the beginning of this month until the onset of the rains.

The recent spate of fires have affected the Mau conservancy where on Sunday, a fire broke out at Esageri Forest of Koibatek zone while on Friday a fire broke out in Gathiuru forest in Nyeri and burnt an area of about 10 hectares of grass and shrubs.

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