LETTER: Let’s tackle the effects of climate change
The onset of the March-April-May (MAM) rainfall came as a relief to many. The rains marked the commencement of recovery phase from drought phase. Unknown to all, the rains turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Widespread flooding, landslides, fatalities, displacement and damage to social amenities were the outcomes arising from the rains. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Climate change is one lesson majority of Kenyans will hardly forget for a long time to come. We have just come out of drought episode, the longest that affected the coastal strip, eastern and north eastern hardest. Timely interventions by government and non-governmental agencies like the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and Kenya Red Cross Society impeded loss of livelihoods and lives. The onset of the March-April-May (MAM) rainfall came as a relief to many. The rains marked the commencement of recovery phase from drought phase. Unknown to all, the rains turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Widespread flooding, landslides, fatalities, displacement and damage to social amenities were the outcomes arising from the rains. It seems the rains are not going to subside any time soon. Kenyans should embrace themselves for extreme weather conditions for a little longer. Drought, floods, heavy down pour, hail storms and heat waves are associated with these extreme weather conditions. They are as a result of our tolerance to destructive human activities. We have not only destroyed our tree cover, but still continue employing conventional farming practices that leads to loss of soil texture and fertility through erosion and leaching exposing crops to pest and disease. Recall the clarion call of retired president Moi in 80’s that for every tree felled, two should be planted. He was a great advocate of terracing, trenching and gabions building in arresting water flows and erosion. As a practical leader, he enlightened Kenyans of the simple things done on a day to day life that made all the difference in soil conservation. Furthermore, there were 4K clubs in our schools. Glorification of the brand ‘politics’, diverted Kenyans attention from these simple and practical conservation practices. As Moi kept on reminding us, ‘siasa mbaya maisha mbaya’. Then Mother Nature was abandoned. Amid polluted political environment, Kenyans continue enduring deplorable living conditions, poor waste management practices, reactive approach to disasters and unfriendly climatic conditions. Wangari Maathai warned, that Mother Nature is very unforgiving, if you destroy it, it will destroy you in return.
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Renewed calls to plant more trees should be hailed. However, we need to get our priorities right by reviewing our land and environmental policies that tolerate destruction of our forests and encroachment into water ways. A multi-sectoral planning approach on effects of climate change should be embraced at all levels of governance. Soil conservation is a critical element at a start. If not addressed, erosion will persist leading to loss of soil fertility, low crop productivity and pollution and end up compounding into calamities. By planting more trees, soil conservation will be addressed as erosions will be reduced, fertility enhanced, waters bodies filtered, promote habitat, provide wind breaks and reduce effects of green houses. Overall, those simple short term measures of terracing, gabions building, waste management, and policy formulation need be prioritized. Indeed, if not adequately addressed, climate change is a primary threat to realisation of the governments’ four agenda policies.