Posts Tagged ‘kenya’

Steps into Mapping the Unmapped (Rural Focus) – Mapping on Mount Elgon (Mapping: No Big Deal)

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Humorous take on surveying and ground truthing from the neogeography perspective in Africa. Topics include season planning, mental maps, asking for local knowledge, keeping a trip diary, and sharing results back with the surveyed community.]

Republished from Mapping: No Big Deal.

Mapping hardly accessible, rural areas, is always a challenge. Each area differs so you have to tackle it in its own special way. Yet some basic steps are always the same. I have written some of them down.

In July, Mildred and I went mapping on Mount Elgon as contractors for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on behalf of Map Kibera. They needed information regarding polling stations in the area for their work on election monitoring. The information included geographic location, accessibility – both physical accessibility and the availability of cell phone service, information related to infrastructure of these stations, and speed of travel to each individual station.

Here is how we tackled the problems step by step:

1. Season planning.

The first and most important step in planning the mapping project is season planning. Obviously you want your work to run smoothly, without too many interruptions which is most of the time not the case. Season planning saves time, energy, money and nerves, takes the nature out of the equation, and lets you focus on other – project related problems.

While mapping on Mount Elgon we overlooked this very crucial step because the results were urgently needed. In an ignorant human and naïve researchers manner we  thought we could conquer nature or at least go over every obstacle it put on our way. We should have known better. June and July being the peak of winter, it was cold and raining all the time. We only had a window of six hours per day when we could work, and the other eight hours we tried to save ourselves from the mountain. Because of the rain, roads became impassable and everything came to a standstill. I can comfortably say we lost at least two to three days of mapping because of the rain and as a result we lost money.

Continue reading at Mapping: No Big Deal . . .

With Flights Grounded, Kenya’s Produce Wilts (NY Times)

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Travelers might be inconvenienced by the recent volcanic ash plume shutting down air traffic over Europe but lack of transport also affects our global just-in-time food supply chain, as this article from the New York Times highlights. Photo by Jehad Nga. Thanks K!]

Republished from the New York Times.
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN. Published: April 19, 2010

NAIROBI, Kenya — When Kenneth Maundu, general manager for Sunripe produce exporters, first heard about a volcano erupting in Iceland, he was excited. “I thought, ‘Oh, wow, a volcano,’ ” he said.

And then reality hit him in the face like a hurled tomato.

Because Kenya’s gourmet vegetable and cut-flower industry exports mainly to Europe, and because the cloud of volcanic ash has grounded flights to much of northern Europe since Thursday, its horticultural business has been waylaid as never before.

On Monday, Mr. Maundu stared at the towering wreckage: eight-feet-tall heaps of perfectly good carrots, onions, baby sweet corn and deliciously green sugar snap peas being dumped into the back of a pickup truck.

“Cow food,” he said, shaking his head. “That’s about all we can do with it now.”

If farmers in Africa’s Great Rift Valley ever doubted that they were intricately tied into the global economy, they know now that they are. Because of a volcanic eruption more than 5,000 miles away, Kenyan horticulture, which as the top foreign exchange earner is a critical piece of the national economy, is losing $3 million a day and shedding jobs.

Continue reading at the New York Times . . .

In Aptly Named Rift Valley, Kenyan Deal Rings Hollow

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

kenya rift valley refuge map
Map by Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso and Dita Smith — The Washington Post

(The Washington Post) NAKURU, Kenya – A week after Kenya’s warring political leaders signed a power-sharing agreement, Marian Wambui arrived at a camp for displaced people here, her house having been burned to the ground just two days earlier.

As President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga celebrated in Nairobi, the mother of two was wondering where in the unfamiliar sprawl she might put the two plastic bags of belongings that were all she had left in the world.

Wambui stood in the sun, facing the details of her new life: a registration tent and a light blue meal card. A long line led to workers adding fresh names to a list already 16,000 long — mostly people from Kibaki’s Kikuyu ethnic group who had been chased from their homes in this western Rift Valley region and were now living in rows of white tents in a dusty field.

Read the full article at The Washington Post…