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County steps up war on Climate change

The adverse risks associated with climate change are far from over despite the ongoing rains being experienced in the Nyeri County, a senior government official has warned.

Speaking to KNA Monday County Climate Change Director Yvonne Mathenge said the aftermath of the long dry spell in the country that resulted in drying up of rivers and depressed yields on major cash crops such as tea and coffee should be a wakeup call for urgent intervention measures in addressing the challenge.

Ms Mathenge said the county is currently undertaking Participatory Climate Risk Assessment Change (PCRA) in all the 30 wards to identify existing climate change risks and hazards in each locality and come up with workable mitigation and adaptation measurers.

“Climate change is bad and this has been witnessed by the long drought that we had and the failed crops. And also, when we get into the highlands, we’ve had very low yields for a crop that was otherwise doing very well, a case on point coffee and tea. I think these were the biggest indicators and if you have the highlands affected you can only imagine what the semi-arid areas are going through which was also witnessed by the number of water conflicts that the Water Department had to solve in the various communities because there was not enough flow of water,” she says.

The   Department of Water, Environment and Climate Change is planning to undertake and has already held PCRA meetings in all the 30 wards since the start of the program.

There are a total of 20 members who form part of the ward Climate Change committee members including representatives from interest groups, community group members, government officers and private organisations.

Deliberations from the meetings will then be consolidated into a common document that will form the basis of the County’s Climate Action Plan.

The plan which is expected to be ready by the beginning of next month will among others highlight the programs and projects that will be prioritized as far as dealing with climate change is concerned.

Mathenge has also cited the emergence of sporadic earth movements in areas hitherto unknown to be prone to tremors as clear indication of changes being wrought by poor land management.

She singled out Tetu and Othaya as some of the wards that have witnessed landslides and mudslides in the past three years posing a risk to communities living there.

“We have had in the last two to three years landslides in areas that were not naturally affected by them. We know Mukurwe-ini has always been prone but we have also seen the same happen in Tetu and Othaya and so this can only mean increased vulnerability of our community caused by climate change,’’ she stated.

Reverend James, a retired Police Officer from Kiganjo-Mathari ward and who attended one of the PCRA meetings lauded the county government for the initiative terming it a timely intervention.

He said apart from being selected to sit in the caucus, the deliberations will go a long way in dealing with challenges affecting farmers in their day-to-day activities due to effects of climate change.

“I want to thank the county government for organizing this meeting. We have learnt a lot on climate change and I believe that what we have learnt here if implemented then many things will change for the better. We have discussed a number of things such as soil erosion, landslides and drought management. If what has been discussed here is implemented, drought and hunger in Nyeri will be a thing of the past,” he observed.

On her part, Teresia Wanjiku a resident of Tetu ward has advised farmers against undertaking farming on riparian lands to avoid destroying crucial water sources such as swamps and marshlands.

She also called for a shift from reliance on fossil fuels such as charcoal and firewood to green energy such as biogas and solar as a mitigation measure against dependence on firewood.

“We have seen how the effects of this climate change has affected us through drying up of rivers, swamps and disappearance of aquatic lives. We should therefore refrain from undertaking any cultivation along river banks and swamps and instead plant bamboo trees along such places. It is also high time we resort to renewable energy sources like biogas and improved jikos in order to reduce cutting down of trees for firewood,” she added.

Charles Gichuhi who is a deaf from Aguthi Gaaki ward in Tetu, Nyeri lauded the organizers for the programme saying that it has catered for the groups abled differently.

He said the training will help people like albinos who were mostly affected by hot weather.

Kenya is coming out of her worst food crises in over four decades following six consecutive failed rain seasons owing to what experts attribute to effects of worsening global climatic changes.

This situation had pushed more than 5.3 million Kenyans to the brink of a humanitarian crisis with hundreds of animals already reported to have died in the former Northern Frontier Districts.

It is estimated that world leaders need to commit at least US $100 billion each year for climate financing on adaptation and mitigation measures, according to Global Citizens, an international non-profiting organisation working on eradicating poverty and fighting environmental degradation.

The organization also says there needs to be a concrete measure by world leaders in financing climate mitigation efforts in poor countries besides advancing measures that will keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“There needs to be decisive collective action focused on supporting low-income countries and keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. And we need to prioritize food security, nutrition, and livelihoods by directing climate adaptation resources to rural communities and smallholder farms, while working to protect and restore nature in partnership with local and marginalized communities,” read a recent report from the organisation.

At the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009, developed countries promised a collective goal of mobilizing billions of dollars every year to assist poor countries address the ravages of climate change.

However, the funds have not been forthcoming despite numerous protests from poor countries who continue to bear the brunt of worsening climate changes despite contributing less than three percent of all carbon emissions in the world.

 By Samuel Maina

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