Devolution Cabinet Secretary (CS) Eugene Wamalwa has called on counties to set up emergency funds to mitigate the high cost of damages caused by natural disasters.
Speaking in Kwale in the company of area Governor Salim Mvurya, Wamalwa said counties need to prioritise on the fight against natural calamities like floods and droughts and reduce their dependence on the national government.
The CS said the devolved units need to invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes saying Kenya just like other countries in the world is vulnerable to climate change.
“Climate change is real, locally and internationally and it has come to a point where counties have to look for affirmative solutions,” said Wamalwa.
He said the constitution mandates devolved governments to effect saving two percent of their budgets and divert it to disaster mitigation programmes.
The CS blamed higher temperatures, drought and changing rainfall patterns and flooding on climate change.
“Counties like Kwale, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera are affected by both severe drought and flooding year in year out occasioned by increased climate variability” he said.
He went on “recently we were distributing relief food and water for livestock to these counties because they were facing severe drought and now they are battling floods,” he said.
Wamalwa said disaster funds at the counties will act as the first line of defence to save people’s lives when calamities struck before outside help arrive.
The CS added that it would be easy for the national government to intervene when the county has made some effort to ameliorate the situation in times of distress.
“The government will have an easy task of offering assistance when county administrations take immediate and appropriate response” he said.
Wamalwa also told counties to create rainwater harvesting reservoirs that can conserve water for use during periods of water scarcity.
“For example dams can facilitate irrigation farming and alleviate poverty in the countryside” he said.
On his part Governor Mvurya said Kwale has already set aside about Sh70 million to respond to the impacts of climate change in the region.
He said several earth dams and reservoirs to store fresh water have been constructed in the four sub counties of Matuga, Lunga Lunga, Msambweni and Kinango to alleviate the perennial water shortage.
By Hussein Abdullahi