For the past three years there has been very little rain in Kenya. Kenya has two rainy seasons – the long rains from mid March to May and the short rains from mid October to mid December. Because of the lack of rain Kenya is now in the midst of a famine. Water is being rationed.
Electrical service is also being rationed. Kenya depends heavily on hydroelectric power. The lack of rain has reduced the amount of water available to run the power plants. The power plants cannot generate enough power for everyone. Residential areas have electricity from 6 pm to 6 am and industrial areas have electrical serivce from 6 am to 6 pm. The electricity ration is Monday through Saturday with electrical service all day Sunday.
The impact of the drought is hardest felt in more urban areas like Nairobi, Naivasha, Mombasa, Kisumu, etc. The rural areas of Kenya do not have electrical service at all, thus they are not affected by the loss of power.
One hospital lost its entire blood supply during one of the power shut offs. Two patients died as they did not get needed blood transfusions. President Moi has recently asked for $151 million dollars (US) in aid for the areas that have been hardest hit by famine.
You may not think this year would be a good year to go visit Kenya.. However, the Kenyan government in recent years has recognized that tourism is its largest source for foreign money and has poured a lot of money into the tourism industry. Most hotels have generators and are importing food and water. The larger hotels even have back up generators. Some hotels on the coast may not have air conditioning during the hours of the power shut off. As one tour operator told me ‘hakuna matata’ – there are no problems. If you have planned a trip to Kenya in 2000 – don’t cancel it because of the drought. All indications are that things are running close to normal for tourists.