Effects of climate change and how the Country is trying to navigate the adverse climate changes


Climate change

By: Owen Mburu Kinoru

Worth Noting:

  • Furthermore, human health is also at risk, because a warmer, wetter climate is expected to increase malaria. These populations historically have had limited contact with diseases like malaria and thus have lower resistance. Malaria is already responsible for 5 percent of deaths in children under five and accounts for significant health-related expenses. Also Increased heavy rainfall leading to more frequent and intense flooding raises the risk of drowning and displacement.
  • However, in 2010, Kenya launched its National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS). The NCCRS recognizes the threat climate change poses to sustainable development and advocates the need to integrate climate change information into national government policy. A National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) followed in 2013 (and runs until 2017), which is considered Kenya’s first Action Plan on climate change. It has been developed with the aim of implementing the NCCRS. Its focus is on enabling Kenya to reduce vulnerability to climate change and to improve the country’s ability to take advantage of the opportunities that climate change offers.

Climate risks pose serious threats to Kenya’s sustainable development goals. With the largest economy in East Africa and a population of 48.5 million, Kenya serves as the regions’ financial, trade and communications hub. The country’s economy is largely dependent on rain fed agriculture and tourism, each susceptible to climate variability and change and extreme weather events.

Kenya is very vulnerable to climate change with current projections suggesting that its temperature will rise up to 2.5ºC between 2000 and 2050, while rainfall will become more intense and less predictable. Even the slightest increase in frequency of droughts will present major challenges for food security and water availability, especially in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) in the north and east.

Other parts of the country, most notably in the Rift Valley province, are also vulnerable to climate change due to increasing extreme events (droughts and floods, combined with landslides) while glacier melt will further reduce future water availability. Coastal areas will suffer from rising sea levels and associated floods and saltwater intrusion.

Kenyan agriculture is 98 percent rainfed and highly sensitive to changes in temperature and rainfall. Agriculture accounts for more than 30 percent of GDP and is the primary livelihood for 60 percent of Kenyans. Small-scale farms account for 75 percent of production. Maize, beans, tea and potatoes are the most important crops. Sheep and goats dominate livestock production. Recurrent drought, a significant problem, led to an estimated $10.2 billion loss in livestock and crops from 2008 to 2011.

In addition, Kenya’s scarce water resources, strained by population growth and severe forest degradation, could be further stressed by increasing temperatures, evaporation rates and rainfall variability. The country relies predominantly on surface water sources, but key rivers and lakes are highly susceptible to climate change. Increasingly severe droughts and flooding will impact water availability and diminish water quality, with implications for irrigation and domestic water supply and sanitation, which combined account for 87 percent of current use.

Another major impact of climate change is that Hydro production is reduced by up to 40 percent in drought years, leading to persistent power outages and reliance on more expensive petroleum-based thermal generation.

Furthermore, human health is also at risk, because a warmer, wetter climate is expected to increase malaria. These populations historically have had limited contact with diseases like malaria and thus have lower resistance. Malaria is already responsible for 5 percent of deaths in children under five and accounts for significant health-related expenses. Also Increased heavy rainfall leading to more frequent and intense flooding raises the risk of drowning and displacement.

However, in 2010, Kenya launched its National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS). The NCCRS recognizes the threat climate change poses to sustainable development and advocates the need to integrate climate change information into national government policy. A National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) followed in 2013 (and runs until 2017), which is considered Kenya’s first Action Plan on climate change. It has been developed with the aim of implementing the NCCRS. Its focus is on enabling Kenya to reduce vulnerability to climate change and to improve the country’s ability to take advantage of the opportunities that climate change offers.

Examples of noteworthy farming practices mentioned in the Action Plan include agroforestry, conservation tillage, the limited use of fire in agricultural areas, the cultivation of drought tolerant crops, water harvesting and integrated soil fertility management.

Also, the projects in Kenya that are involved in climate change adaptation and mitigation in relation to water and food security are numerous. Programmes under implementation in 2017 include: the project Adapting to Climate Change in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (KACCAL) in Kenya’ (2013-2017) to facilitate adaptation of key national and local level stakeholders to long-term climate change through capacity development, policies and Programmes adjustment, and pilots for coping mechanisms for smallholder farmers and pastoralists.

Sustainable Environment and Restoration Programme’ (SERP) (2014-2018) by the Government of Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross Society, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), a programme aimed at improving environmental and climate change management in the country.

The country should embrace itself for tough times ahead.

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