We live in a country where less than 5% of forest remains from what originally covered much of the landscape. Subsistence living is what people survive on. Wood for fuel, whatever meager open (or conveniently cleared) piece of land they can put a few seeds in, and wood as a cash crop dominate the entire country. Deforestation has led to huge issues all of the place but we were visited by the suddenness of this devastation just recently. We have been receiving a lot of rain for the past few months. When we say a lot we mean a lot. Several times in these past months we would have 2 inches of rain in a 12 hour period. There is water everywhere. On April 26 we had a tremendous downpour. It was more than we had ever seen in our time here. In a four hour period we had 5.5 inches of rain fall. It was like being underwater looking out the window. The land above us had finally had enough and a major mudslide was sliding down at about 12am. With it came full sized trees and as it swept across the rail line the tracks were taken with it. When it was all said and done we woke up to a huge mess of mud that had slid for several hundred meters down the slope down into the community. The reality of it struck home when we saw that it had come less than fifty meters away from one staff members home here on campus. Fortunately they slept through the whole event as the rain was falling so hard on their tin roof that they could not hear anything else.
A good section of the security fence was swept away as well. For years we have had dedicated staff trying their best to protect the forest that remains above the school here at Kijabe. Truly, if it were not for these people the hillside above us would be completely laid bare by wood poachers and the local community. Little do they realize that trees are a major piece of the puzzle in not only keeping water in the ground but keeping soil from sliding. It is hard because events like this are not thought of having a human influence – they just happen.
Please pray for the people affected. One family in particular lost three children as a mudslide took out their home further up the hill in a community that is well known to us. The roads that we have access to were hit hard as well. The main road has been restricted to small vehicle traffic and we feel it is a matter of time before it becomes completely impassable. Another route had a bridge completely washed away. The one other route that we have is absolutely horrible due to deep ruts and wash out since they are dirt. It is also leads to the only route for the way to overloaded trucks that barely make it up the steep escarpment. So the way is slow going. The government has been promising major work to be done on roads in this area for years due to the difficulty in getting to the hospital but nothing has come of it.
Here are some more pictures of the area. We are very thankful that things were not worse and that the slide went through an area that was mainly undeveloped.