The difference between land that has been protected from livestock, and land that hasn’t, is very clear to see in this photograph.
The damage done to the ecosystem by overgrazing has had a dramatic impact on the land around Olng’arua School, and across northern Kenya. Over grazed land is compacted and desiccated, it sheds rain water as surface run off rather than absorbing it, new plants find it difficult to germinate in the hard, dry soil and those that do tend to be inedible weeds rather than grass or shrubs.
The photograph shows the school’s ‘conservation area’, a piece of land around the school dinning hall that we fenced about 4 years ago. It has been allowed to regenerate naturally. Many people here have no memory of a time when the land around them wasn’t overgrazed. Bare, unproductive land is how they think the land naturally is, and so the link with overgrazing is not always obvious to them. Protecting and regenerating even small areas can help people to see how the land could look, and how productive it could be, if it was managed differently.