The waters of Lake Victoria are calm off Dunga beach, Kisumu, as young entrepreneur Vincent and fisherman Nicholas climb into a wooden boat and head out to check on their fish. Storks perch on rocks emerging from the water along the lakeside, while further out white-sailed dhow boats cut across the breeze. “It’s calm now but, in a few hours, it will be very choppy,” Nicholas observes.
The boat soon arrives at the offshore fish cages. Visible on the surface of the lake are 12 square metal frames, supported by blue plastic tanks filled with air. Under the water, a series of nets holds around 5,000 tilapias in each cage. Nicholas takes off his shoes and clambers onto a walkway at the edge of the cage, which rocks gently under his weight. He peels back the top layer of the net and reaches in to grab a few large fish, which he throws into the boat. They lie at the bottom, thrashing their tails and gulping at the air.
We visited Nairobi National Park in mid-March, towards the end of the dry season and during a prolonged drought. Over the previous three months, the unforgiving sun had wrung the last drops of moisture out of the vegetation. The grass, where it remained at all, had turned into dry yellow straw. This was clearly affecting the herbivores, which were weak from lack of food and easy prey for predators. Like in Amboseli, we saw lots of dead animals lying by the roadside – some eaten, others left almost untouched. The lions, however, looked well-fed and the vultures were numerous.
It’s a hot and humid morning on John Ochieng’s farm on the outskirts of Kisumu town, near a small lagoon. John is a bright and healthy 77-year-old who strides through the fields in bare feet, some of his toenails missing after decades of labour. He enjoys practicing his English. “How are you coping with the atmospheric pressure this morning?” he asks UNICEF, with a twinkle in his eyes.
John collects a bag of manure from young entrepreneurs Chelsea and Steven of Saniwise Technologies. Their company has designed an eco-friendly toilet and sells manure and chicken feed produced as a by-product. John draws some water from a borehole and leads the UNICEF team to a nearby field where he is growing spinach, aubergines, tomatoes and lettuce. He carefully packs some of the manure around a small lettuce in the centre of a hole in the field, then moves onto the next one.