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How Tana River residents cope in hot weather

Wednesday March 6 2019

Waldena Secondary School students

Waldena Secondary School students study under a tree on March 6, 2019. The classes are too hot. PHOTO | STEPHEN ODUOR | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

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When the weatherman warned about hotter days ahead, the news seemed normal to Tana River County residents, but not anymore.

Six days into the month of March, the weather is unbearable. Temperatures rise to 32 degrees Celsius as early as 9am.   

Those headed for work are forced to take breaks to cool off.  

Air conditioners in the offices are of little help. Those with fans have to switch them off. Instead, they choose to rest under trees. 

Temperatures keep rising and by 1pm, they are about 39 degrees Celcius.

Primary school pupils headed home for lunch soak their uniforms in water, at least to cool off.    


"It was too hot and we decided to pass by the borehole to get drenched, by the time we get back to school our clothes shall have dried up,” said Zachary Jilo, a Class Five pupil at Laza Primary School.

This trend, which gives the pupils some relief from the soaring temperatures, has been adopted by many. The pupils say they were taught to do this by their teacher after their colleague fainted on his way home.

Children from Wayu village, Tana River County,

Children from Wayu village, Tana River County, fetch water from a borehole on March 6, 2019. PHOTO | STEPHEN ODUOR | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The girl was taken to hospital only for medics to establish that she had fainted due to the extreme temperatures.

The earth is scorching hot and one cannot walk facing down due to hot air from the ground.

The houses are hot too and people have to squeeze themselves in small shades.   


The temperatures hit 41 degrees by 3pm and one can see the tarmac on the roads melting. In less than fifteen minutes, a bottle of cold water turns too warm and uncomfortable to drink.

Boda boda riders have abandoned their motorbikes. Hotel owners are counting losses, as clients ignore eating foods rich in proteins for lunch. 

Tana River drought

A herder driver his camels on Hola-Woldena road in search of water and pasture on August 19, 2017. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Right now many people are taking vegetables, we are selling more greens,” says Ms Mwanajuma Halako, a hotel owner.

Shop owners sell more water whose supply has now tripled.

“I used to sell five dozens (of water) a day, but now I sell more," said Mr James Macharia, a shop owner.


Groceries have become very busy due to high demand. However, they make loses due to high temperatures.  

Ms Habiba Abdulahi has lost almost half a truck of fruits and vegetables in the last three days.   

"The fruits ripen very fast in hot weather, spinach and cabbages are going to waste,” she explains.

Tana River heat

Farmers feed their cows on dry maize stalks in Hola on March 6, 2019. PHOTO | STEPHEN ODUOR | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Pastoralists have no grass to graze their livestock. Their milk business has been badly hit, cows hardly produce a litre of milk. Herders have to trek either to Tana Delta or Boni Forest in search of pasture for their animals.

Most schools are forced to let learners stay at home in the afternoon as teachers travel long distances to look for water.


By 8pm, the temperatures drop to 33 degrees Celcius. Families spread their mats outside their houses to catch some sleep. The weatherman says the situation is likely not to end soon.  

"The sun is still not at the equator yet, the heat is going to increase between March 19 and 25," says a Kenya Meteorological Department official.

He says the humidity may rise to 65per cent while temperatures might hit between 42 and 43 degrees.

Further, he advises that dieting in the north coast must change and people must spend most of their time in the shade since the sun rays may be harmful.