In Samburu County in northern Kenya, some herders may have to skip voting in elections scheduled for Tuesday (August 9) because severe drought has forced them to migrate hundreds of miles in search of pasture and water.
People are focused on saving their animals and livelihoods rather than voting.
Paul Paradisi, Coiting County Administrator: “Our people have come very far in search of pasture, and when it comes to elections, we can lose a lot of votes because they are almost 200 kilometers away and they win” Not being able to get the opportunity to return and to vote is a problem.”
Kenyans are facing acute food shortages due to lack of rainfall. Food prices have also soared.
And it also affects people living in cities like Nairobi. Phyllis Kanivira is one of them.
“It was too much for us. For example, if you make a budget like before, now you only go shopping for oil. You won’t go for other things, because the prices are very high.”
The country’s debt level has also risen to about $70 billion, or 67% of GDP. Incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta, who is due to step down after serving two terms, says the loans, including $8 billion from China, have funded much-needed infrastructure and helped spur development.
Tom Mboya, political analyst: “Many Kenyans have been concerned about the level of public debt that the government is currently involved in and how this is affecting the working of the government as well as the lives of ordinary Kenyans. So, I think those are the issues that the new administration is going to have to start from the ground up and address from day one. These are some expensive problems from which it is simply impossible to escape.”
Many voters want change, frustrated by corruption and skyrocketing prices. But both leaders vying to succeed Kenyatta are related to him.
Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, a former leftist political prisoner, won Kenyatta’s support.
His opposition, William Ruta, has been President Kenyatta’s deputy for the past decade, although the two men have fallen out.