Most part of the planet have continued to face the wrath of climate change with different countries reporting harsh weather conditions across the year.
In Kenya, the impact of climate change has been experienced in almost every county- both arid and semi-arid counties. Counties such as, Kilifi, Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, Samburu, Wajir, Isiolo and Tana River are most affected ones. Currently, Siaya, Nyeri, Meru and Tharaka-Nithi have found their way into this list with report of food insecurities due to the unpredictable weather patterns.
Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. Human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning of fossils fuels like coal, oil and gas.
It is estimated that over half a million people in Kenya’s Turkana region are facing starvation. This has been attributed to lack of rainfall in the last four seasons. Turkana like most parts of the county continue to experience drought thus lack of water to sustain both the people and their livestock, leading to food shortage.
For instance, pastoralists who depend on their animals to produce milk and meat cannot afford animal feed for their livestock. To avoid seeing them die, they are forced to sell them at a very throw way prices.
Recently, an elephant died in Imenti Forest in Meru County due to hunger and lack of water. The local residents turned to the dead animal for food. Wildlife across the country continue to face the same challenge of prolonged drought which is threatening their existence.
In Northern Kenya, the residents are forced to walk for a very long distance in search of water and sometimes the water is found to be contaminated and unsafe for human consumption. It may lead to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, polio and typhoid.
Tourism sector hasn’t been spared as well, being the second-largest source of foreign exchange revenue here in Kenya, the sector has been severely affected by the effects of climate change.
In Mombasa and Malindi, historical sites such as The Fort Jesus and The Vasco Da Gama Pillar are at a risk and losing their popularity as a result of the rising in sea level causing them to sub-merge in the ocean. Huge volumes of rainfall through the site also weakens its physical fabric.
How can we protect our heritage?
Due to climate change, there is emergence of inter-tribal conflict especially among the pastoral communities as they fight over pastures.
Last year, most regions of the country experienced disastrous floods. In particular, floods in Kitui County swept away a bus with people inside thus leading to the death of 32 passengers.
According to environmental researchers the cause of climate change may be led by the following factors;
- Oil and Gas which is used by industries to produce vehicles and electricity is a threat to wildlife and surrounding environment.
- Deforestation- Clearance of woodland and forest, when they are cleared, they are likely to store carbon which is released into the environment.
- Waste- When the waste is landfills it begins to decompose down and releases harmful gases into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming.
- Farming- Factory farming is responsible for even more climate issues because of the extra pollution it produces and the more animals it can hold.
- The chemicals and materials used within industrialization can not only pollute the atmosphere but also the soil underneath it.
Some of the measure that can help reduce climate change and hunger in the country include;
- Re-organize the budget to provide relief food, water and supply fertilizers to counties with low surplus.
- Greenhouse gases should be built to keep our planet at a suitable temperature for life.
- Creation of public policies at local level to prevent the risks that climate change has in some communities.
- Creation of awareness. Why we need to change our lifestyles and take action to reduce the pollution to mitigate climate change.
- Conflict resolution. We need to be our brother’s keep and stop fighting and killing each other and find ways on how we can come together, settle our differences and tackle with the bigger problem which is climate change and hunger in Kenya.
- The government should construct more drainage system to store water and transport the water to regions with low rainfall in cases of flooding.
It is also important to note that food insecurity has severely affected pregnant women, children and the elderly as they unable to get nutritional needs from the food that they consume since it is of low quality and isn’t satisfactory.
Special adaptation measure needs to be set because climate change will not end anytime soon.