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People cross a bridge broken by heavy rains that caused landslides, in the village of Sebit, West Pokot County, Kenya, Africa. VOA

By Rael Ombuor

As the Earth heats up, weather and climate patterns are changing dramatically around the globe. Africa felt the effects of those changes in 2019, experiencing cyclones, droughts and unstoppable rains that jeopardized livelihoods.


Sixty-two-year-old David Kemboi sorts out dry maize stalks on his 21-hectare farm in Kenya’s Trans Nzoia County.

He turns the stalks of what could have been a bountiful harvest into silage — for feeding his 15 herd of cattle.

He said the heavy rains that have rocked different parts of Eastern Africa cause the crops to fail.

“At the time of growing crops we expected optimum yields, we had invested heavily on all the crops that we grew, but unfortunately, we were not able to get a good harvest out of all that, which means a lot of money was just thrown to the dogs. We didn’t get anything out of that and we do not expect to get anything elsewhere other than from this land because we depend on rain-fed agriculture,” he said.

Trans Nzoia county where Kemboi settled after retirement in 2017 is known for growing predominantly maize, Kenya’s staple food.

Apart from the excessive rain, farmers in the area have faced pests and disease challenges.

“Every time we go to harvest the maize, there is rain and when it gets wet, it gets spoiled very quickly. That one has had adverse effects in growing of maize and also in beans. Beans, the first crop we didn’t have any harvest at all. It all went bad because of these heavy rains,” said Kemboi.

Widespread flooding

Millions of people have been displaced as a result of widespread flooding this year across large parts of Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The floods have led to hundreds of deaths. In November, South Sudan declared a state of emergency in 27 affected areas with close to a million people affected.

The Kenya Meteorological Department attributes the rains to an irregularity known as Indian Ocean dipole, an oscillation of surface temperature of the sea, which brings weather extremes to countries neighboring the Indian Ocean.

Benard Chanzu is the deputy director of Kenya’s Meteorological services. He said nearly all of Kenya has received above-average rainfall this year.


People stand on debris blocking a highway after River Muruny burst its bank following heavy rains in Parua village, about 85 km northeast of Kitale, in West Pokot county, western Kenya, Africa. VOA

“In some stations, I can quote like Meru stations, we have seen records which are showing that what has been received is more than 200 percent of the long term average, that is what is usually received in the area,” said Chanzu.

More extreme weather ahead

With levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere climbing to new highs, Dr. John Recha, a scientist specializing in climate and agriculture research, said Africans can expect more extremes in years to come.

“We will therefore have more effects of climate change affecting the weather patterns specifically the rainfall patterns, climate change will be more intense and therefore the climate variability that is having these extreme events of the droughts and the floods will be more frequent and more intense going into the future,” he said.

Also Read- Southeast Asian Activists Pressurize Regional Govts to Offer Climate Action Plan

The solution for Kemboi and other farmers, according to experts like Recha, lies on adapting to climate change.

That, he said, would require help from government and agencies to implement new agricultural practices such as alternative irrigation methods and efficient water storage for farmers. (VOA)


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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Japan launched its new satellite, QZS-1R.

Japan has successfully launched a new navigation satellite into orbit that will replace its decade-old navigation satellite.

The satellite, QZS-1R, was launched onboard an H-2A rocket that lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center at 10.19 p.m. on Monday night, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said in a statement.

The company builds and operates H-2A rockets the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

QZS-1R is a replacement for Quasi-Zenith Satellite System 1 satellite first launched in 2010. “It was a really beautiful launch," the company said in a tweet after a successful lift-off.

"H-IIA F44 flight proceeded nominally. Approximately 28 minutes 6 seconds after launch, as planned, the payload separated from the launch vehicle," the statement said.

The official QZSS website lists four satellites in the constellation: QZS-1, QZS-2, QZS-3 and QZS-4, Space.com reported.

The QZSS constellation will eventually consist of a total of seven satellites that fly in an orbit passing through a near-zenith (or directly overhead) above Japan, and QZS-R1 is meant to share nearly the same transmission signals as recent GPS satellites, according to JAXA.

It is specially optimised for mountainous and urban regions in Japan, JAXA said.

Mitsubishi's H-2A 202 rocket launch system has been operational since 2003 and has sent satellites to locations such as Venus (Akatsuki) and Mars (Emirates Mars Mission).

The latest H2-A rocket launch is the first since November 29, 2020, when Japan launched an advanced relay satellite with laser communications tech into orbit, the report said. (IANS/JB)


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Everyone loves firecrackers, even the most environment-friendly advocates cannot hide their joy when they see these delightful lights colour the skies. India celebrates Diwali in the true spirit of her culture and heritage by spraying the navy-blue skies with sparkling hues of gold, silver, red, and green. Firecrackers are not just a tradition in this country, they are a legacy.

The original connotation one makes with fireworks in China. The elaborate Chinese celebrations with dragons and zapping firecrackers have left their mark in human memory, but the use of fireworks is not limited to heralding the Chinese New Year. All over the world, fireworks have come to symbolise the ultimate celebration. During Diwali in India, this spirit is re-ignited every year.

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A visitor looks at statues of the 'Royal treasures of Abomey kingdom' on display at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris on Sept. 10, 2021, part of 26 artworks set to be restituted to Benin later in the year.

PARIS — In a decision with potential ramifications across European museums, France is displaying 26 looted colonial-era artifacts for one last time before returning them home to Benin.

The wooden anthropomorphic statues, royal thrones and sacred altars were pilfered by the French army in the 19th century from Western Africa.

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