Friday, August 26, 2011

Drought-hit Kenya turns to cloud seeding for rain

Gitonga Njeru in AlertNet: Kenyan scientists plan to use a technique known as cloud seeding to produce more rain from November, in an attempt to ease East Africa’s worst drought in several decades. Most parts of the country usually experience a period of long rains from September until early December. But Kenya’s Meteorological Department forecasts that the coming season’s rainfall will be patchy and below normal, and the drought could last until March.

Kenya has experienced frequent droughts since 2005, but weather analysts say this year’s dry spell is the worst of them, and some have linked the trend to climate change. With around 3.2 million Kenyans already in need of food and other humanitarian aid, the government has decided to try to increase precipitation through weather modification methods.

“We have a serious drought which has affected our food production. Food prices have gone up due to scarcity caused by the prevailing drought. There is great need for rain since most of the country depends on rain-fed agriculture,” said Peter Ambenje, the meteorological department’s deputy director.

“We have many unexploited clouds in the sky that need to be utilised. I believe cloud seeding is very vital at this desperate time,” he added. The meteorological department, a government agency, has a division that specialises in cloud harvesting and seeding, and a number of Kenyan scientists have experience in these techniques....

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