Kagondu Njagi, AlertNet
In Kenya, Water Stress Also Breeds Cooperation Between Competing GroupsJanuary 29, 2013 By Wilson Center Staff
By the time the violence had died down, more than 80 people lay dead and hundreds were left homeless.
Yet there was scarcely enough water – the resource the Maasai and Kikuyu tribes were fighting over – to wash away the blood that had stained this part of Kenya’s Rift Valley.
“The rivers were drying up,” shrugs Salau Ole Kilusu, a lanky and sunbeaten Maasai elder, recalling the conflict that erupted in 2005. “The Maasai needed the water for their livestock. The Kikuyus said they needed it for their farms. None was willing to cede way.”
More than seven years later, it is still easy to see why water is such a contested asset here at Kijabe escarpment, a scorched lowland terrain that sprouts with cactus and acacia vegetation.
Giant whirlwinds collect on the dusty patches without warning, filling the daylight with swirling reddish-beige clouds.
Photo Credit: “Goats drinking water an an Oxfam-funded borehole,” courtesy of Anna Ridout/Oxfam International.