Roses, DIY turbines and bumpy roads

A few shots from a road trip from Nairobi to my new home in Kisumu, West Kenya. We bumped through the beautiful Rift Valley visiting various places along the way. First stop was a gentleman named Robert who had invited us for lunch. He kindly served me my first Kenyan meal consisting of kuku (chicken), rice, ugali and sukuma wiki (kale), a meal that has now become very familiar.

Robert works in the flower industry, a big industry out here that supplies European markets. The manager proudly gave us a tour of the whole operation, from nursery to storage. Water is pumped from a nearby river and with a special recipe of fertilisers, they are able to produce 45,000 roses per day. We saw lots of potential for environmental and energy efficiency improvements, however as my friend put it, it’s a bit like “pissing in the ocean”. The wider supply chain of this operation involves flying in growing medium from India, heavy use of carbon intensive and ecologically destructive fertislisers, and the downstream emissions from flying the flowers over to Europe for further distribution in lorries. It’s nuts. The only good thing about this operation is the jobs it provides, however the pay is low and workers do 8 hour days, 6 days per week for a minimal pay. I’m not feeling very romantic over these roses.

roses-2

Not long after being pulled over for a third time at a police checkpoint, we met with Mze Daivd, an inspiring inventor and electrician. Harrison, my colleague had met him some weeks earlier after spotting some wind turbines from the side of the road.

turbine

Without access to any guides or the internet, he was experimenting with different designs. With limited resources and people to help him, he was doing magnificently. He enthusiastically showed us his work, climbing up and down the turbine shafts and talking at length about his design challenges in building cheap turbines out of local materials. My trusty colleague, Doctor Sam provided some suggestions and we agreed to talk again in the future.
on-the-road