Chapter 1.1 (English Std 7)

Listening and speaking

These people live in the desert. There is little vegetation but sand is everywhere. When winds blow, it becomes very uncomfortable. The people shield their faces from the dust that covers every place. Water is very scarce, and it is very hot during the day. Oases are few, but people are thankful all the same. Sometimes rains come, but when it is very hot, water evaporates before reaching the ground.


  1. What are deserts?
  2. What kind of life do people who live in desert areas lead? 
  3. What problems do you think nomadic people experience?
  4. What animals would you expect to find in arid areas?

Pronounce each of the following words correctly:

  1. city
  2. centre
  3. ceremony
  4. circus
  5. cent
  1. certificate
  2. citizen
  3. century
  4. cell
  5. cinema
  1. census
  2. celebrate
  3. circle
  4. cease
  5. certain

Note that the initial sound in each of the words is /s/. Although the words are spelt with letter c, the letter c is pronounced like the letter s.

This sound can also be found in the middle or at the end of a word.

  1. innocent
  2. rice
  3. concentrate
  4. race
  1. deceive
  2. dance
  3. exercise
  4. price
  1. process
  2. advice
  3. nice

Read the following sentences aloud:

  1. You can visit the circus in the city centre.
  2. The innocent boy received a prize.
  3. The pupils celebrated when they received their certificates. 
  4. The audience concentrated on the play.
  5. They are showing a funny film in a certain cinema.
  1. cite – site
    Preachers cite Bible passages frequently.
    The school has moved to a new site.
  2. cell – sell 
  3. cent – sent 
  4. cease – seize 

Reading: Life in deserts

Deserts cover about one fifth of the surface of the earth. They are found in places where rainfall is very scarce. Although there are both hot and cold deserts, Africa’s deserts like the Sahara and the Kalahari are hot. There is little or no water in these places and few plants or animals can survive there. The most common sight in deserts is sand which is seen everywhere and a few people with their camels constantly looking for water. People in such places lead a nomadic life. They do little cultivation, except in places like Egypt where there is irrigation. This is possible because the longest river in the world, the Nile, passes through Egypt before joining the Mediterranean Sea.

Slightly more than two thirds of Kenya’s surface is arid or semi-arid. The entire North Eastern Province, and parts of Rift Valley, Eastern and Coast Provinces receive very little rainfall. These regions are sometimes referred to as semi-deserts. Temperatures are very high during the day and very cold during the nights. The cool nights help both plants and animals by reducing moisture loss from sweating or breathing. The soil can range from sandy and fine-textured to loose rock fragments, gravel or sand.

In the arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya, most people are pastoralists. They move from place to place with their camels, herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats. They build temporary homes like manyattas because they do not stay long in one place. In a few places, you can find oases where the people get water for themselves and their animals. Wells and boreholes also exist. In such places, you will find a high concentration of people and livestock. Irrigation projects have been initiated along the Tana River in Garissa and Tana River districts.

In most deserts and semi-deserts, vegetation is sparse. Since the climate is dry, plants are mainly ground-hugging shrubs and short woody trees. Acacia and cacti are examples of such trees. They are drought resistant and have water-conserving characteristics.

There are few large mammals in deserts. This is because most of them are not capable of storing sufficient water and bearing the heat. Deserts also provide little shelter for large animals. The camel is the largest animal in arid areas. It survives because it stores water in its hump. It is a highly valued animal. The most common animals are small creatures which are able to dig holes in the sand where they hide during the day. There are also insects, reptiles and birds. Many of them are not active during the day. They come out at night when the desert is cooler. People have to watch out so as not to be bitten by some of these creatures. Scorpion bites, for example, are very painful.

Travelling in the desert is very difficult. Very few roads are tarred and ordinary cars are therefore unsuitable. Those who can afford use four-wheel-drive vehicles which are specially designed for rough places. A majority of the people, however, ride on lorries and trucks. Although life is difficult in arid areas, people are still able to make a living through hard work.

Exercise 2

Answer the following questions:

  1. What is common about Africa’s deserts?
  • They have little rain.
  • They are hot deserts.
  • They are very big.
  • They have little vegetation.
  1. If there were enough water for irrigation, people who live in arid areas would probably
  • keep more livestock.
  • be very happy.
  • settle in one place.
  • begin agricultural activities.
  1. Why are camels so common in deserts?
  • They are able to store water for long periods.
  • People value them and find them useful.
  • They are big animals and can survive there.
  • People can ride them as they move around.
  1. How is Egypt different from other arid countries?
  • It is very near the sea and the Nile.
  • It is a rich country unlike the others.
  • It uses the waters of the Nile for irrigation.
  • It does not allow a nomadic lifestyle.
  1. The passage suggests that only about a third of Kenya’s surface
  • receives enough rainfall to support farming activities.
  • has the right conditions for a comfortable life.
  • supports animal and plant life adequately.
  • gives people an opportunity to settle in one place.
  1. Why do people in arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya build temporary homes?
  • Many of them are very poor.
  • There are no materials for permanent homes.
  • They do not stay in one place for long.
  • Temporary homes are comfortable in that climate.
  1. What does the expression drought resistant mean?
  • Tough and hard.
  • Does well during drought.
  • Able to survive with little water.
  • Good for the desert conditions.
  1. Which of the following statements is not true according to the passage?
  • Plants and animals do not lose much moisture at night.
  • Most people in arid areas are nomadic pastoralists.
  • Acacia and cacti are not very big trees.
  • There are no large mammals in the desert.
  1. Why are most desert animals inactive during the day?
  • They would lose too much moisture and die.
  • They have to find shelter because it is very hot.
  • They do not want to expose themselves to enemies.
  • They find it more comfortable to be busy at night.
  1. Which of the following would be the best summary of the passage?
  • Provision of water would transform life in the desert.
  • Life in the desert is difficult for poor pastoralists.
  • Moving from place to place affects development.
  • Certain plants and animals can survive in the desert.


What can be done to prevent the spread of deserts?

Build your word power

A. Match each of the following words with its meaning.




very little

very short and near the ground

able to store water for long periods

land that is so dry that few plants can grow on it


B. Use the words you have just learnt in (a) to make sentences.

  • initiated
    The community has initiated an irrigation project.
  • arid 
  • sparse 
  • ground-hugging 
  • tarred 
  • water-conserving 
Please wait