By Avellon Williams
NAIROBI, KENYA – Kenya’s president is hoping a national day of mass prayer on Tuesday will help open the heavens after a sixth consecutive failed rainy season in the East and Horn of Africa.
During a service in the drought-stricken city of Nakuru, some 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Nairobi, William Ruto announced plans for the country’s first day of prayer. As part of an effort to ease drought conditions throughout the nation, the country’s spiritual leaders have called for an entire day dedicated to prayer.
Moreover, Ruto’s own ambitious economic revival plans rely on a successful rainy season.
“As a government we have set out elaborate plans for food security, we have seeds, ample fertilizer, and water harvesting strategies including dams. We now need God to send us the rain,” Ruto said. “I urge all people from all faiths … to pray for our country.”President William Samoei Ruto
Kenya and other East African nations are in the midst of some of the worst droughts in decades, resulting in crop failures, livestock losses, and loss of biodiversity and wildlife.
A large part of Kenya’s economy is based on domestic agriculture. According to the United Nation Humanitarian Agency, the current drought in the region is a “rapidly unfolding humanitarian catastrophe”.
The extreme weather is exacerbated by human-caused climate change, according to meteorologists. “It is time we started including climate change as factor in our development plans,” Evans Mukolwe, former director of the Kenyan and U.N. weather agencies, told The Associated Press.
“The current drought which we warned about some years ago has wider ramifications on the social economic conditions of the region including peace, security, and political stability.”
In the region, Mukolwe noted that climate change has contributed to below-average rainy seasons for about three decades. Since 2020, five rainy seasons have failed, affecting more than 50 million people, according to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s climate center.
During the second half of February, the center will release projections for the long rainy season, which typically lasts from March to May. According to other meteorological groups, early projections are not optimistic.
In many parts of the world, people have sought divine intervention in order to bring rain or favorable weather. The Archbishop of Milan made a pilgrimage to three churches last summer in hopes of ending the country’s dry spell, and the governor of Utah called on citizens to pray for rain before a weekend of extreme heat.
In response to the president’s call, some Kenyans are planning to take action. Millicent Nyambura, a business owner in Nairobi, supports the idea, “even though it will affect my colleagues in the flower business who expect to boost sales on Valentine’s Day.”