In Kenya’s northern Samburu County, some herders may have to skip voting in elections set for Tuesday (9 August ), because severe drought has forced them to migrate hundreds of miles in search of pasture and water.
People are focused on trying to save their animals and livelihoods, rather than on casting their ballots.
Paul Paradisi is an administrator of Koiting Location in the county: “Our people have gone very far to look for pasture and when it comes to election matters, we might lose a lot of votes because these are almost 200 kilometers from here and they won’t be able to get an opportunity to come back and vote – that is a challenge.”
Residents in Kenya are facing acute food shortages due to poor rainfall. Food prices have also skyrocketed.
And that also affects people living in cities, like Nairobi. Phylis Kanywira is one of them.
“It has been too much for us. Like, if you do the budgeting of how you used to do, nowadays you go shopping only for oil. You can’t go shopping for other things because the prices are very high.”
Debt levels for the country have also surged to roughly $70 billion dollars, or 67% of GDP. Incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta, who must stand down after serving two terms, says borrowing – including $8 billion from China, funded the much-needed infrastructure and helped spur development.
Tom Mboya is a political analyst: “Many Kenyans have been concerned about the levels of public debt that the government is now involved in, and how that affects the operation of government as well as the lives of ordinary Kenyans. So, I think those are issues that the new administration will have to hit the ground running and deal with from day one. Those are some high-ticket issues which it is simply impossible to run from.”
Many voters want change, frustrated by corruption and skyrocketing prices. But both frontrunners vying to succeed Kenyatta have ties to him.
Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, a left-leaning former political prisoner, has received Kenyatta’s endorsement.
His opposition William Ruto has been Kenyatta’s deputy president for the past decade, although the two men fell out.