- In the recent past, the region has experienced an intense and prolonged drought that has resulted in six failed rain seasons.
- This has taken a toll on pastoralists who largely depend on their livestock for survival.
Government, development partners and governors now say there is a need to discuss more resilient-building strategies to address the effects of climate change.
This came out during a 2nd all-stakeholders roundtable discussion on resilience-building strategies for the arid and semi-arid counties of Kenya in Garissa on Thursday. The forum was led by the CS Ministry of East Africa Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development Rebecca Miano.
In the recent past, the region has experienced an intense and prolonged drought that has resulted in six failed rain seasons. This has taken a toll on pastoralists who largely depend on their livestock for survival. The grazing field and pasture continue to be depleted daily.
Speaking at the forum, the CS said previously, the focus has majorly been on response, noting that time has come for discussion to shift to sustainable and resilient building measures.
“You cannot complete a discussion about the arid and semi-arid lands without touching on climate change. ASAL counties are the most affected by the vagaries of weather and the impacts of climate change,” she said.
Miano added, “We want resilient building in communities, we also want to discuss what kind of projects and programmes that we can put in place to have our people in the arid and semi-arid lands more responsive. Droughts will always be here and we don’t want every time we have a drought we have the same problems and the same response,” she said.
Garissa Governor Nathif Jama who is the chairman Asal counties said for a long time, ASAL counties have suffered the effects of climate change, adding that the situation was getting worse by the day.
For this reason, he said there was a need to have a paradigm shift in tackling climate change.
“Our local communities have varied first-hand feeling of the effects of the climate change. Our water pans continue to either dry up or experience constant breakages as a result of the large number that use them. We have to keep on repairing them from time to time,” he said.
Jama said the biggest problem the region faces was water, noting that a huge chunk of their funds as governors go into the sector. He reiterated the need to prioritise having huge reservoirs.
“Let us be realistic and be honest to ourselves and back our words with actions both the government and our development partners. We as the governors of the ASAL counties, are really committed to changing the fortunes of our respective counties. Sometimes I keep asking myself where the billions that have been quoted to build mega dams go to,” Jama said.
He said as governors they are keen on changing the lives of their people and living behind rich legacies. He said this can however only be achieved through the support of both the National government and other development partners.
United National resident coordinator Stephen Jackson said with six million Kenyans in deep food insecurity as a result of that, more efforts need to be made to make families more resilient.
“We need to help them be more resilient, still in the face of a climate situation that is getting worse and worse. There is an urgency to help build resilience,” he said.
Jackson who moderated the discussions said education being the greatest equaliser, it was important for all stakeholders to not only create awareness among communities but also offer financial support.
"Education is one of the major ways we promote resilience at the individual level. It is the greatest equaliser as we all know. And so as the UN, we will remain on the forefront in making this support, of course with the support of other partners,” he said.
Others in attendance were governors Nathif Jama (Garissa) who was the host, Ahmed Abdullahi (Wajir), Mohamed Khalif (Mandera) and Mohamed Mohamud (Marsabit), Tana River Deputy Governor Ali Loka, Isiolo Deputy Governor Dr James Lowasa and other guests.
Others who participated in the round table discussions were development partners including the Japanese Ambassador Ken Okaniwa, the WHO and several UN entities.