There is a slightly sombre atmosphere in Nairobi at the moment. The cost of living has gone up and everybody is feeling the strain. There was an article in yesterday's Standard 'Yuppies feel the heat of the economy'. They said Thursday and Friday night hotspots in town are empty as people are preferring to drink at local clubs nearer their homes and often on credit.
The newspaper interviewed a car hire company operator, 'First the electricity bill has more than tripled in the last two years and I pay for water that I do not receive and rising oil prices means everything from running my business to basic things like unga have become expensive' It also said, 2 years ago 1,000 Kenya shillings could buy a kilo of meat, 2kg of maize flour, a loaf of bread, two packets of milk, six eggs and a packet of sausages. Now the same amount will buy much less and he makes do with a quarter kilo of meat and half kilo of unga.
I chatted with my friend who is a plumber, 'now 1,000 shillings is worth only 100/- and 100/- is only 10/-' he said laughing, but speaking the all too painful truth. I notice that local fruits and vegetables that were once so wonderfully well priced are now downright expensive. We gave the nightwatchman 1,000/- as he needed to go to the funeral of a deceased aunt. '1,000/- isn't going to help him much is it?' I said to my husband. 'it's probably just something toward the bus fare.'
There is no sign of rain yet. It's hot, dusty and more like January weather at the moment. I asked Shadrack when he reckons it will rain. 'Next month' he said, 'and there will be more than usual.' Let's hope he's right.
Wangari Maathai says the government must clear the Mau forest of illegal settlers before the rain starts. 'the evictions should be before long rains to ensure the forest rejuvenates naturally.'
to read more about the coming El Nino rains and Kenya's drought look at www.irinnews.org A UN humanitarian news and analysis website