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Waiting for rain

Kenya and other countries in the region have been waiting anxiously this week for the start of the “long” rains.

While Nairobi had a few heavy showers at the start of the week, we haven’t seen the noisy, thunderous downpours you’d expect. In fact, some parts of Kenya haven’t received a drop.

When I first started living in Africa, the idea of having “rainy” and “dry” seasons was completely alien. Having grown up in the west of Ireland, where the idea of a dry day is only getting damp from the drizzle, it’s hard to imagine that there are countries where you don’t get a drop of rain for five months.

A joyful occasion

And unlike in Ireland, for countries in this region, the first sign of rains is a joyful occasion. Fields have been ploughed and seeds planted in anticipation. If the rain falls on time and continuously for the next three to four months, farmers will harvest and be able to feed their families.

When the rains don’t come

It’s depressing to think of what happens when the rain doesn’t come. Farmers then have nothing to harvest. It’s looking like this is a reality for this region in 2009.

Climate change and its effects on Africa are beginning to really show. As are the effects of the recession.

For a few months now, African economists have been warning countries like Kenya to plan for reduced aid budgets, lower prices for exports and the declining remittances that are invaluable to the coffers.

Effects of the recession

The G20 meetings this week have reassured developing countries that the 0.7 aid target will be kept. There’s no doubt though that the effects of the recession will continue to be felt in developing countries.

Developing countries, now more than ever, need our continued support. Let’s hope this message is heard by the Irish government in advance of next week’s budget, and Irish Aid can continue its necessary and life-saving work throughout the developing world.