Leah A. Gwiyo CBS, permanent secretary, Ministry of Tourism, KenyaAs reported widely across the media, the horn of Africa is currently experiencing drought which has caused hardship to many people in the region. 2011 has been the driest period in Kenya, recording the lowest rainfall in many years.
The Northern and Eastern parts of Kenya are arid and semi-arid areas with minimal rainfall annually. Unfortunately, this year the region did not receive any rains at all making them the hardest hit areas by the drought. The affected areas include Garissa, Wajir, Moyale, Isiolo, Marsabit and Mandera. Assistance Together with various Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and donors, the Kenyan government through various ministries has mobilised resources to supply essentials such as food, water and medication to help the affected people.
Tourism not affected
The drought has affected specific areas and regions, however most other regions have received adequate rainfall and expect bountiful harvest. Tourism activities in these and other parts of the country are going on as usual. Hotels and lodges around the Maasai Mara region are recording impressive bookings as tourists continue to flock to witness the on-going annual wildebeest migration. Other tourism products in Western, Rift Valley and Coastal regions among others are also reporting impressive bookings. It is also important to note the hotels and lodges distributed across the country have a plentiful and constant supply of water. There have been no reports of hotels running out of water as most of these facilities do not depend on rain water.
The affected areas of the Northern and Eastern regions have few tourist facilities, National Parks and Game Reserves. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) – the government body mandated to conserve and manage Kenya’s wildlife has done the following under the emergency intervention programme;
· Water supply – KWS has started supplying water to the parks/reserves for the animals in the affected areas. KWS has built bore holes for a sufficient supply of water in these areas not only for animals but communities within the vicinity
· Providing hay grass to the herbivores especially the elephants and giraffes
The above measures have helped maintain the national order of wildlife population in the parks in the affected regions.
On behalf of the Kenya government and the tourist sector let me reassure our visitors that Kenya is ready and able to receive tourists. Kenya is a land of diversity with plenty of tourism attractions to sample and it remains of vital importance that tourism continues to flourish.