Climate-induced population migrations, rising competition for dwindling resources among farmers and pastoralists leading to frequent conflicts, and floods continue to impact communities in Tana River, Major (Rtd) Dr. Dhadho Gaddae Godhana, Tana River County Governor said in Garsen yesterday.
According to the Governor, climate change impacts are neither a notion nor academic but a reality that Tana River residents live with daily.
“Alongside the fact that we are predominantly rural, the impacts of climate change like flooding, conflicts due to grazing or farming lands and sea intrusion have been severe within our communities,” said Dr Godhana while hosting a delegation from the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, in partnership with the Open Society Initiative in East Africa (OSIEA).
The governor said reducing agricultural productivity, loss of indigenous and endemic biodiversity, forest and land degradation as a result of continued land-use changes are a concern for his County government.
Dr. Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance said the reality of climate change can no longer be assumed. He said it is important counties and countries adopted a bottom-up climate action and building synergy with both nonstate and state actors to address increasing threats of climate change.
“With Kyoto Protocol gone and Paris Agreement in practice, locally-led climate action is the in thing. We have tried and tested the benefits of Tujiinue Tena – a locally led climate action project by the Alliance in Meru – and for sure Tana River would be a great county to explore with a similar initiative,” said Dr. Mwenda.
The courtesy call to the Governor was a culmination of a weeklong activities by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, and the Open Society Initiative in East Africa (OSIEA) who held several activities in Tana River, and other parts of the coastal regions to mark World Environment Day.
Under the theme “ecosystem restoration”, the activities were to increase community understanding of the convergences between healthy ecosystems, climate change and land-use planning.
Advancing the Alliance’s locally-led approaches to climate action, the activities were part of the Building Community Climate Resilience Through Proper Land Use Planning Practices project by the Kenya Platform for Climate Governance (KPCG).
Dr Mithika urged the local population to take actions that restore degraded ecosystems and safeguard future generations from the adverse effects of climate change and other environmental failures. Forest loss, she said, was threatening the flow of key environmental goods and services at the county and national levels.
By and large, Kenya’s ecosystems are in danger from indiscriminate and irresponsible human actions. “We have seen rapid deforestation, which has reduced forests and coastal wetlands, and endangered biodiversity, human livelihoods, and wildlife,” said Dr Mithika, adding that a failure to protect habitats and halt species extinction would have knock-on effects on climate change mitigation since forests, peatlands, wetlands play a big role in extracting greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.
Efforts to address these changes to environmental resources such as mangroves, forests have produced some results but have not succeeded in reversing adverse environmental changes.
Held annually on June 5, World Environment Day raises awareness across communities, cities, countries, and continents on environmental issues. In addition, it is a day used to mobilize communities to join hands and recognize that everyone on earth has a stake in ensuring sustainability.
For the second year in a row, World Environment Day is being held amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to exacerbate other challenges including, but not limited to, climate-induced droughts, floods, landslides, locust invasion and water scarcity, deepening poverty, inequality, among others.