NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – With a sixth straight failed rainy season in the east and the African Cup of Nations looming, Kenya’s president is hoping the Heavens will finally open with the help of a national day of prayer. Tuesday.
William Ruto announced plans for the country’s first ever day of prayer on Sunday at a service in the drought-stricken city of Nakuru, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the capital Nairobi. It follows a joint call from the country’s spiritual leaders to dedicate an entire day to prayer to alleviate drought conditions in the nation.
Ruto’s own ambitious economic revival strategy for the country is also dependent on a successful rainy season.
“As a government we have laid out elaborate plans for food security, we have seeds, lots of fertilizers and water harvesting strategies including dams. We now need God to send us the rain,” said Ruto. “I encourage everyone of all faiths … to pray for our country.”
Kenya and other east African nations are experiencing some of the worst drought conditions in decades, causing crop failure, loss of livestock, wildlife and biodiversity, and malnutrition. Domestic agriculture is a major part of Kenya’s economy.
The United Nations humanitarian agency has described the ongoing drought in the region as a “rapidly developing humanitarian disaster”.
Meteorologists say human-caused climate change is contributing to the extreme conditions.
“It’s time we factor climate change into our development plans,” Evans Mukolwe, former director of Kenya’s weather agencies and the UN, told the Associated Press. the social economic conditions of the region including peace, security and political stability.”
Mukolwe added that climate change has contributed to below average rainy seasons in the region for about three decades.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s climate center said five rainy seasons have failed since 2020, affecting more than 50 million people. The center will release its projections for a long rainy season, typically from March to May, later in February. Early forecasts from other meteorological groups are not optimistic.
All over the world people of different faiths often seek divine intervention for rain or other favorable weather. Last summer the Archbishop of Milan made a pilgrimage to three churches in the hope of ending the country’s dry spell and the governor of Utah asked citizens to pray for rain before a weekend of extreme heat.
Some Kenyans plan to heed the President’s call.
Nairobi business owner Millicent Nyambura said she supported the idea, “although it will affect my colleagues in the flower business who are hoping to increase sales on Valentine’s Day.”
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