Distributor:  Global Environmental Justice
Length:  87 minutes
Date:  2017
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; Swahili / English subtitles
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available


Curator imageDavid N. M.Mbora, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, Whittier College

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Thank You for the Rain

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Kisilu Musya, a Kenyan subsistence farmer, climate change fighter and video diarist collborates with Julia Dahr, a Norwegian filmmaker, on this award-winning documentary about the human cost of climate change.

Thank You for the Rain

David N.M. Mbora, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, Whittier College

Why I selected this film

Thank You for the Rain is a compelling firsthand account of the effects of climate change through the eyes of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. As a portrayal of one man’s resolute efforts, the film demonstrates that ordinary people do have agency to confront climate change. Indeed, Kisilu’s video diaries, which are embedded throughout the film, are especially evocative. The diaries give a face—or faces, actually—to those who are on the front lines of climate change, allowing them to share their experiences in their own voices and showcase how they are fighting back. This is a timely production.

Teacher's guide:  Is it weather or is it climate change? 

The distinction between weather and climate is crucial to appreciating  what climate change really is. Please see the teacher's guide for maps, background information, activities, and discussion questions that explore this subject.


Thank You for the Rain is a collaborative film made by Kisilu Musya, a Kenyan farmer, climate fighter, and video diarist, and Julia Dahr, a Norwegian filmmaker. For five years, Kisilu used his camera to capture the lives of his family members, the atmosphere of his village, and the impact of climate change in Kenya.

In addition to filming floods, droughts, and storms, he documented the real human costs of the climate crisis: His kids are sent home from school when he can’t pay the fees because of a failed harvest. Men are moving from their villages to towns in search of work. Food supplies are pinched, and family tensions are rising. Despite these hardships, Kisilu emerges as an activist, organizing his community to plant trees to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.


Excerpts:  If time is short

Three excerpts with a total running time of 21 minutes are also included for viewing if time is short. These clips provide a more tightly focused introduction to the impact of climate change on subsistence farming throughout East Africa. The clips can be accessed via the Clips tab, above.

The environmental justice focus of the film

Thank You for the Rain delivers a clear and urgent message. The people who suffer the worst effects of climate change are the ones who have contributed little, or nothing at all, to it. To make matters worse, these are the people who are most vulnerable and have the least means to mitigate its impact and adapt to the change.


This compelling human portrait asks what the future holds when clear evidence of climate change presents itself and the most powerful politicians in the world choose to do nothing. [...] An inspiring portrait of individual who knows that if one loves this planet, one must do all one can to save it."POV Magazine

"As a climate change researcher, I found Julia Dahr's film a must-see documentary."Sheffield Hallam University

"A look not only at the effects of climate change, but of the dedication it takes to be an activist and family man at the same time [...] An impassioned plea for climate change action."Toronto Film Scene

"It is the greatest injustice of our time and age that those who did nothing to cause climate change are first and hardest hit, whilst we who have done most to cause the greenhouse effect are hit last and least. In Thank You For The Rain we see the frontlines in the battle against climate change. Thank You For The Rain should be a wakeup call for all."

Jan Egeland,UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, 2003-06.
Co-chair of the UN High Level Panel for Global Climate Services, 2009-10.


Review by J. Zimmerman for Video Librarian
6 April 2013 Four and one-half stars ****

Norwegian filmmaker Julia Dahr presents an intriguing documentary about climate change and activism. We begin in a rural village in Kenya with Kusilu’s family. As the climate has changed and the landscape around his home has become deforested, Kisilu notices the rain signs changing or disappearing. He hatches a brilliant scheme to teach the farmers in his area to properly plant and care for trees which will encourage rainfall and prevent runoff and other water loss.

The only problem is, despite being incredibly intelligent and forward-thinking, Kisilu’s economic position stifles his activism. While talking about her Kenyan friend back home in Norway, Julia opens up a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Kisilu when he is invited to an ecology conference. While Kisilu’s life changes from that of a subsistence farmer to an environmental activist, things at home remain much the same. The father is torn between saving the world and providing for his family.

While occasionally disorganized, Thank You for the Rain tells the intriguing story of Kisilu Musya, a Kenyan farmer-turned-activist. He hatches a plan to deal with the long-term issues of climate change and drought, but economic and social issues are a barrier to community acceptance of his tree-farming plan. Julia’s interjections make the film stutter, changing the pacing and styling from simple fly-on-the-wall to personal biography. The sound design is confusing as well, barraging the viewer with horror movie or canned city noises seemingly at random after sometimes twenty minutes of flawless slice-of-life documentation. These are the two complaints I have about Thank You for the Rain as there’s not much to complain about.

Kisilu is an intriguing subject: He is smart, thoughtful, kind, and sensitive, making his many blog-style interviews incredibly valuable for anyone seeking an African perspective on ecology and climate change. Highly Recommended. 

Where does this title belong on public library shelves?

Thank You for the Rain belongs on ecology, ethnography, and biography documentary shelves in academic libraries. 

What type of instructors could use this title?

Any instructor teaching ecology, African history, and culture, or climate change should include Thank You for the Rain in their lesson plans. Undergrad and graduate-level college students will probably gain the most, but high schoolers may also enjoy this title.

How does this film contribute to a discussion of environmental or climate justice, and/or to environmental literacy?

Thank You for the Rain expands the climate justice conversation in two ways: Kisilu both adds an African voice to the conversation and shows the viewer just how much one man can do for his environment


Main credits

Dahr, Julia (film director)
Dahr, Julia (screenwriter)
Dahr, Julia (filmmaker)
Hartford, Hugh (film producer)
Hartford, Hugh (screenwriter)
Musaya, Kisilu (on-screen participant)
Musaya, Kisilu (filmmaker)
Kisilu, Christina Wayua (on-screen participant)

Other credits

Director of photography, Julie Lunde Lillesæter; editor, Adam Thomas; composer, Chris White.

Distributor credits

Hartford, Hugh

Dahr, Julia

Main credits

Dahr, Julia (film director)
Dahr, Julia (screenwriter)
Dahr, Julia (filmmaker)
Hartford, Hugh (film producer)
Hartford, Hugh (screenwriter)
Musaya, Kisilu (on-screen participant)
Musaya, Kisilu (filmmaker)
Kisilu, Christina Wayua (on-screen participant)

Other credits

Director of photography, Julie Lunde Lillesæter; editor, Adam Thomas; composer, Chris White.

Docuseek subjects

Documentary Films
Government Policy
Environmental Justice
Habitat Destruction
African Studies
Indigenous Studies
Climate Change
Women's Studies
Rural Studies
Environmental Sociology

Distributor subjects


; "Thank You for the Rain"; Global Environmental Justice; Icarus films; Kenya; Africa; environment; agriculture; United Nations Climate Talks; climate change; urbanization; globalization; gender equality; education; sustainability; Kisilu Musya; dryland agiculture; farming; flood; environmental justice; extreme weather; Christina Wayua Kisilu; Julia Dahr;

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