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Global Warning: Millions in Kenya Stare Death in the Eye

By Robert Wanjala

Eldoret, Kenya.  Just in its second County, Climate Change consultative forum held in Rift Valley; Kenya’s largest  province witnessed a boycott from some key private sectors and big time environment polluters; industries.

Speculations about the absence of these key contributors to global warming was apparent in the highly-charged forum convened to chat strategy on actualizing the country’s Climate Change Action Plan, NCCAP.

Their absence is casting doubts on the commitments to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest  Degradation, REDD + in the country.   

Ali Ramtu, director of Meteorological Department, Rift Valley Province says: “We invited all stakeholders including big industries top management. We wish not to speculate on why they failed to show up but I suppose it’s out of fear that they could be the subject for discussion in such meetings.”

Kenya’s climate change discussions kicked off amid warning for tough times ahead due to global warming.  Effects of prolonged droughts linked to Climate Change in the country remain the greatest threat to food security, water resources and accessibility to quality health care.

Former assistant minister, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, MOEMR Prof. Margaret Kamar says the country risks realizing its vision of becoming a middle income nation in Africa, Vision 2030.  

Kamar says: “Climate Change would derail achieving its envisaged ‘middle income country’s’ dream unless government takes drastic measures to protect the environment by increasing forest acreage, stopping destruction of forests and keeping rivers clean”.

Climate change effects have put a strain on the Kenya’s development and budgetary planning. Recent impact statics shows the cost of climate change could be equivalent to 2.6 per cent of the country’s GDP each year by 2030.  

According to Ministry of Planning and National Development, MOPND, the cost of drought in 1998/2000 were estimated at US$ 2.8 billion. In the recent past some regions up to one third of all livestock perished due persistent droughts.

Dr. Mohammed Isahaki, Permanent Secretary, office of the Prime minister warns that Kenyans could pay dearly unless an action plan by the national climate change committee was implemented.

Dr. Isahaki says that his office was committed to implementing the climate change strategic plan and increasing forest cover to 10 per cent from the current 1.76 per cent.

He says: “The government has put in place a national climate change response and strategic action plan, NCCRSAP, and is in the process of implementing it through MOEMR.”


Osman Warfa, Commissioner, Rift Valley adds that government was ready to help communities affected by climate change on how to deal with it.  

“Making climate change action plan responsive to the needs, Kenyans must be willing to share their experiences of its evidence and impacts, adaptation and mitigation strategies they have put in place to address the situation,” Warfa says.   

Omedi Jura, member to the Technological Executive Committee, UN Convention on Climate Change says that the Action Plan was to develop and actualize adaptation and mitigation measures through consultative process with all stakeholders on board.

Jura says: “With risks such as perennial and prolonged droughts and flash flooding in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya, our priority to building resilience to the impacts would reduce vulnerabilities to affected communities.”

Last year over 4 million people in Kenya experienced pangs of hunger due to hard-hitting droughts, statics at MOPND shows with additional burden of over 450,000 Somali refugees who are victims of prolonged drought according to Africa Union.  

The number is likely to increase observes Joseph Cheboi, a District Agriculture Officer.

Rift Valley is Kenya’s food basket and failed to meet the targeted harvest of maize and wheat – the region’s main farming activity because of erratic rainfall and runaway costs of farm inputs.  

As a result many farmers have been pushed to diversify farming business to at least hold together the diminishing family incomes. A number of farmers have ventured into crops like millet, sorghum and barley due to attractive market prices than that of maize and wheat.

Kamar adds that millions of Kenyans are staring death in the eye: “Kenya is fast loosing fertile land due the effects climate change resulting from destroyed environment,” urging Kenyans to embrace nuclear energy to boost power supplies in rural areas. She also called on the government to revive agriculture clubs in schools.

The climate change consultative conferences target to integrate all stakeholders across sectors in the Kenya’s new 47 Counties with an aim to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies to reduce and sustain effects of climate change.

 Local NGOs positioning to have a share of the over US$ 130 million Kenyan government annual climate change funding says government should consider rewarding or compensating individuals or communities keeping their forest unharmed or for reducing level of deforestation, says Philip Barno, a farmer and also chairman of Civil Societies.

International Institute for environment and Development, IIED, latest report on how the REDD+ schemes proposed to tackle climate change could benefit poor communities living near forests, says adopting pro-poor benefit approach in distributing these schemes would not only profit them ‘poorest of the poor’ but also build (REDD+’s) legitimacy both at the national and international level; which ultimately will help preserve forest ecosystems.

REDD+ sustainability will need concerted effort including private sector.  Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary to the UN Framework on climate change during her recent lecture at IIED, was quoted saying new technologies and the involvements of the private sector were critical to tackle climate change emissions.  “Don’t depend on governments because they can’t deliver 100%,” she said, IIED press lease quotes.

Jura who also sits at Kenya’s national Climate change secretariat concurs with Figueres. Reducing or sustaining effects of climate change will need more than just political pronouncements. It will need sustained efforts, funding and well representation from all stakeholders.


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