Tag Archives: Kenya

What’s causing the drought in East Africa?

July 26, 2011

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A woman holds her baby outside a tent serving as a medical clinic established by the African Union peacekeeping operation in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 16. (CNS photo/Stuart Price U.N. handout photo via Reuters)

The drought in East Africa is reportedly the region’s worst in six decades, and it threatens the lives of millions of people with food shortages. Thousands are fleeing Somalia to seek food in Kenya and Ethiopia, according to Catholic Relief Services, which is responding to the disaster.

But what is causing this severe drought and the looming threat of famine?

Rains that normally fall from October to December in parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia failed to arrive last year. This year, spring rains were less than adequate, according to CRS, and many areas have now missed two growing seasons. Consequently, food prices are rising beyond affordability.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California in Santa Barbara believe that the trend of decreasing precipitation will continue and that it’s linked to global warming.

According to a press release earlier this year from the USGS:

“As the globe has warmed over the last century, the Indian Ocean has warmed especially fast. The resulting warmer air and increased humidity over the Indian Ocean produce more frequent rainfall in that region. The air then rises, loses its moisture during rainfall, and then flows westward and descends over Africa, causing drought conditions in Ethiopia and Kenya.”

These scientists concluded, after examining the region’s weather and climate data, that most of that warming is the result of greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions from human activities.

The situation in East Africa is one example of how climate change is negatively impacting world populations. And it is the world’s poor who are paying the heaviest price.

The long-term solution is to work to reduce greenhouse emissions. But, right now, what’s most needed is a generous response to the needs of those immediately affected by the drought and food shortages. You can help by making a contribution to CRS to help its efforts in East Africa.

And prayers are always needed for the hungry, for those working to assist them and for the future, which remains uncertain.

According to CRS:

“What will happen next is weather dependent. If the fall rains appear on schedule, they will be a great help, although we still must ensure that farmers have seeds to plant, because the crop failure has left many without seeds. If the rains do not appear or are deficient, then the food crisis will worsen considerably as hunger becomes more acute and displacement more widespread. If the rains are too strong, falling on the parched ground, they could wash away crops and lead to flooding.”

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Blogging from Kitui, Kenya

July 5, 2011

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Kitui delegation

Kitui delegation

Last week, the Center for Mission sent a delegation to Kitui, Kenya that’ll last until July 12. They’ve setup a blog to share their experiences and pictures.

From their blog…

Welcome to the 2011 Kitui, Kenya Partnership blog.  Individual delegates will be posting their descriptions of activities and pictures during the trip, so you can get a sense of their experiences while they are there. The trip dates are June 28 -July 12. Please feel free to add comments or even submit questions for them and they will try to answer them as they are able.

Please keep them and their mission in your prayers.

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Reading about murder of Minnesota Catholic priest 10 years ago makes my blood boil all over again

August 31, 2010

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collar and gun cover

“The Collar and the Gun,”

by Dean Urdahl

It took three weeks, but I finally finished Dean Urdahl’s historical fiction about the life and death of Father John Kaiser, a Minnesota priest who was murdered in Kenya in August of 2000. “The Collar and the Gun” is only a 232-page paperback, but for the sake of my rising blood pressure I found I had to put the book down after just about every chapter.

Each successive section of the story adds to the damning portrayal of corruption in government and to a horrific ending. And the reading of this North Star Press work brings an element of shame to Americans for what our own government did and did not do before and after Father Kaiser was shot in the back of the head.

Urdahl, a teacher and member of the Minnesota House of Representatives who lives near Grove City, MN, gathered the data and the stories about the missionary who spent 36 years ministering to the people of Kenya. Urdahl interview people there as well as those in this country who kept in contact with the priest who always kept his connection to his home Diocese of St. Cloud.

“The Rhino of the Poor”

We meet John Kaiser as a boy growing up on a Minnesota farm, but his story quickly jumps to Africa and the work he did as a member of the Mill Hill missionary order. He built churches and schools by hand, setting the beams and bricks himself, and he used the hunting skills he learned as a boy to help feed his parishioners in the Rift Valley area of Kenya.

He served several parishes and thousands of people, and became involved in seeking justice after watching his parishioners chased off the land they held deeds to, sometimes being murdered for resisting forces backed by ruthless, land-grabbing elected officials, including the leaders of area in which his missions lay and the president of Kenya himself, Daniel arap Moi.

When he challenged the country’s so-called “big men” they denied wrong doing yet warned him to end his involvement or suffer the consequences. No threats could stop Father Kaiser’s determination to help the Kenyan people be treated justly by their own leaders. Those he served came to call him “the rhino of the poor” for his refusal to back down in the face of danger to his life. When he collected statements from displaced farmers and publicly accused government leaders of stealing the land to line their own pockets, he became a marked man.

When two teenage girls came to him to tell of being raped by another civic leader, Father Kaiser challenged him personally and for all intents and purposes sealed his fate.

Moi and other Kenya politicians got rid of any opposition by simply having those people killed, and the newspapers that were controlled by Moi’s KANU party dutifully reported that the murdered either committed suicide or died in an auto accident. Father Kaiser avoided attempts to run him off Kenya’s rutted roads, but eventually he couldn’t escape his murderers.

Our FBI falls in line with dictator

As was the way in Moi’s Kenya, the first police on the scene declared Father Kaiser’s death a homicide, but soon after they were overruled and a suicide theory proposed.

Urdahl wrote that to verify the finding, “The Federal Bureau of Investigation was asked to come in from the United States. They agreed with the Kenyan pathologist that it was likely a suicide.” Urdahl implies that the U.S. made a deal with Moi to cover up Father Kaiser’s murder, because Moi offered access to the harbor at Mombasa in any Middle East conflict.

Suicide, however, appears to be frankly impossible. The Catholic Church asked a Norwegian doctor to do a post-mortem on his body, and he found that the gun that killed Father Kaiser was fired at a distance of approximately three feet from the head. To shoot himself in the back of the head, Father Kaiser would have had to have arms that were six feet long.

Of course we want to think the best of our country, but reading Father Kaiser’s story will make you wonder what it might take for the U.S. government to come clean on the cause of death of one of its own citizens, and on what it may have received in trade for our FBI lying about the murder of a priest at the hands of a corrupt and greedy dictator like Kenya’s Moi.

Besides crying out for justice for Father Kaiser, “The Collar and the Gun” should serve as a catalyst for Americans to do more reading about Kenya and other nations that receive U.S. foreign aid.

“The Collar and the Gun” is available for $14.95 at http://www.northstarpress.com.

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