The Knowledge

The Knowledge? Pah! I tell you, these London cabbies have got nothing on the Merlin drivers.

Turkana is 77,000 square kilometres and there is one tarmac road. One. The 30 health facilities and 71 outreach sites are reached via mud, sand or gravel tracks. This week, contemplating barely visible tire tracks ahead of us I asked how the drivers ever find these communities with no maps or roads.

James: “That is a Merlin road.”

Me: “Pardon?”

James: “That is a Merlin road. Our vehicles make these tracks. We are the only people that ever drive into these areas. We have made these roads.”

That amazed me.


The Safe Motherhood programme manager told me that Merlin “reaches the unreachable”. To do it each Merlin driver travels up to 1200km a week, transporting midwives and health educators to communities and taking women whose lives are in danger to hospital. If a woman is struggling in labour in the dead of the night they don’t wait for sunrise. They just drive.

I don’t know about you but I think they are as important as the midwives and health educators.


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