Include counties in war against climate change, says Abdullahi

Residents have intimate knowledge of local conditions, he said

In Summary

• Wajir governor said counties have first-hand feel and indigenous knowledge

• He said aligning them with national plans is crucial for adaptive solutions 

Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi speaks in Wajir town
Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi speaks in Wajir town
Image: FILE

Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi wants climate action initiatives agreed on at the just-ended Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi to be cascaded to counties.

Addressing a high-level inter-ministerial panel at the summit on Wednesday, he said local communities have indigenous knowledge that can be helpful in mitigation and adaptation.

The active participation of sub-national-level governance is invaluable for building resilience in the Horn of Africa's borderlands,” the governor, who is also the vice chairman of Council of Governors, said.

“Their intimate knowledge of local conditions makes them essential contributors to a complex, multilayered strategy.”

The governor said the interventions discussed will remain a pipe dream if local administrative units are not roped into designing the solutions.

Local communities have varied first-hand feeling of the effects of the climate change and ways to respond to them, he said.

Communities in ASAL areas, especially the ones in border lands, experience double jeopardy.

They not only endure the weather extremities but also suffer the consequences of the extremities, such as intercommunal conflict and counter-conflicts that arise from shortages.

Sub-nationals serve as vital links between grassroots necessities and national policy goals,” he said.

“Alignment between national and subnational-level resilience plans is crucial for adaptive solutions across various border areas.”

Abdullahi also called for scaled-up funding for the devolved units by the national government and the international bodies dealing with climate and security issues.

The units have had to divert their resources to respond to climate conflict that includes human-wildlife conflict as well as droughts, food shortages, floods and diseases among others, he said.

Counties bordering Somalia and Ethiopia have borne the brunt, he said.

The Horn of Africa needs predictable and sustainable financing to invest in resilience measures and adaptation to climate change,” he said.

“This is especially important in fragile communities, which are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. International cooperation is also essential to ensuring the availability of adequate resources.

In this case, the international community can provide financial assistance, technical expertise and other support to help the Horn of Africa address the challenges of climate change.

He said the funding and intervention he was calling for should be channelled through the local units because of the contextual indigenous knowledge for better results.

Climate change intensifies pre-existing vulnerabilities, from food scarcity to water crises, making resilience more challenging to achieve,” he said.

“The increased difficulty in finding grazing lands, for example, escalates resource-based conflicts. Therefore, community input is indispensable in crafting solutions tailored to local needs.”

In Wajir, for instance, he said, he developed a climate change law that has mainstreamed data-based decision-making and created specific organs dedicated to monitoring and championing policies and actions that help vulnerable communities in the face of harsh weather patterns.

One of the strategies put in place by Wajir county to address climate change and build resilience is the enactment of the County Climate Change Fund Act 2016,” Abdullahi said.

“Its objective is to support climate resilience and adaptation projects in the communities.

The law provides for the establishment of Climate Information Services, enabling the county to share climate information and knowledge, identify and develop opportunities and risks and for mitigation and adaptation.

CIS can also support society to build resilience to future climate change, he said.

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