Kenyan scientist says climate crisis worsening hunger, ecosystem’s fragility

Climate And Disaster Resilience
Climate And Disaster Resilience

Kenya’s ability to feed its estimated 50 million people is in jeopardy as climate-induced recurrent droughts and flooding undermine crop productivity at the small-holder level, a scientist said on Wednesday.

Chris Ng’etich, a climate scientist at the Kenya Meteorological Department, told Xinhua during an interview in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi that food insecurity and water stress could become a recurring phenomenon in the eastern African nation, unless drastic measures are initiated to hasten the transition to a green and resilient future.

Kenya is in the grip of the worst drought ever witnessed in the country in the last four decades, and climate change is a major driver, said Ng’etich, adding that resilience building targeting vulnerable groups like nomads and small-holder farmers was critical.

According to Ng’etich, the four consecutive failed rainy seasons that have been experienced in Kenya and across the Horn of African region since 2020 have escalated the hunger and malnutrition crisis to the detriment of sustainable development.

He added that based on the latest assessment report from the UN-affiliated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the East African region, including Kenya, should brace for more frequent and intense droughts in the future.

In its latest update released on Monday, Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority said 4.35 million people in more than 20 arid and semi-arid counties were food insecure amid the escalating drought. The agency revealed that 942,000 children aged six to 59 months and 134,000 lactating mothers in the drought-affected counties were acutely malnourished and required emergency food aid.

The Kenyan government has reiterated its commitment to investing in long-term measures to tame the climate-induced hunger crisis, including irrigated agriculture and the adoption of improved crop varieties.

Ng’etich said the construction of small dams, the promotion of water harvesting, and climate-smart farming practices could provide durable solutions to the hunger and malnutrition crisis linked to the prolonged dry spells.

Ng’etich said Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are some of the Horn of African states bearing the brunt of a severe drought partly attributed to the La Nina phenomenon that leads to depressed rains.

Ng’etich stressed that long-term mitigation and adaptation measures like green mobility, curbing food waste, large-scale water harvesting and storage, and improved weather forecasting are key to boosting the resilience of local communities on the frontline of the climate crisis. Enditem

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