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ENVIRONMENT

Role of ethics in meeting Kenya’s climate change adaptation needs

As the adverse effects of prolonged drought and flood episodes continue to intensify, the power of Kenya to feed its growing population is put to test.

In Summary

• Since the harsh effects of climate change affect all of us, we should take in upon ourselves to initiate climate mitigation and adaptation actions to reduce the impact of global warming.

• There is no doubt that the indeterminacy of weather and climate has become a common phenomenon that is cruising the country along unknown terrains.

Environment CS Keriako Tobiko during the UN Climate change talks in Katowice Poland
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko during the UN Climate change talks in Katowice Poland
Image: COURTESY

The impacts of climate change will persistently threaten the world and consequently pose serious challenges of skewed vulnerabilities, intergenerational effects and ecological justice. This is if collective perspective is not considered in addressing the relevance of key ethical concerns such as fairness and responsibility in harnessing climate change.

Much as the burden of climate change is primarily felt by developing countries such as Kenya, it is important to note that states have a collective responsibility in attenuating climate change disaster-related risks.

Since the harsh effects of climate change affect all of us, we should take in upon ourselves to initiate climate mitigation and adaptation actions to reduce the impact of global warming.

 

As the adverse effects of prolonged drought and flood episodes continue to intensify, the power of Kenya to feed its growing population is put to test. The increased population of 47.8 million coupled with increased soil erosion due to floods and drought are to blame for the reducing size of arable land. Nonetheless, combined with low commodity prices and unavailability of ready markets, unfavorable weather events pose a serious threat to agriculture as a source of food, income and employment, mainly for the youth.

There is no doubt that the indeterminacy of weather and climate has become a common phenomenon that is cruising the country along unknown terrains.

On one hand, floods cut power lines rendering industrial operations senile, which leads to reduced levels of productivity and ignites the possibility of downsizing.

Power blackouts are also to blame for increased insecurity and delayed medical attention for the sick, other than causing diseases and providing ideal breeding grounds for water-borne diseases. Floods also cut roads rendering them impassable other than causing landslides, mudflows and avalanches. On the other hand, drought, which has widespread effects is to blame for hunger, conflicts and spread of airborne diseases.

Combined, the direct and indirect effects of climate change are exacerbating unbearable damages on farm and rangelands.

Last year, the multiplication of quelea birds that threatened wheat harvest in Narok, compelled the government to use Sh200 million to spray pesticides to kill the birds.

In the counties of Mandera, Marsabit and Wajir where locusts moving in droves caused panic, the government was again compelled to spray 3,000 litres of pesticides after locals’ attempt to use bells, hitting metal plates and cups with nails and sticks proved futile. The active involvement of the police to scare the locusts with gunshots and tear gas canisters had also flopped.

 

The locusts visited the locale only weeks after floods had subsided. Some of these futile techniques used by locals signal the desperation that communities will continue to face when and where proper disaster management and planning lack. Whereas no one can comprehensively plan for the weather-related disasters because of the indeterminacy and magnitude of their occurrence, preparedness is adorable.  

This preparedness requires resource mobilization prior to climate emergencies. Predictions using advanced technologies alongside indigenous knowledge should find ample space in disaster readiness. For when we act after disaster strikes, when eliminate the essence of mitigation. But prudence is needed so that anticipation of disaster is used as a scapegoat for impropriety of otherwise futile resources. Preparedness also involves capacity building of communities and exploring of dimensions that a given disaster can portend harm and on how extents of damage can be minimized.

To avert risk layering, prompt responses are needed. For instances, where houses are destroyed and people displaced from their homes, rapid relocations are needed to safeguard trust in relationships. Otherwise, it can be easy for a frustrated person engaging in immoral activities which risk their health. In any case, various lines of literature reveal that climate emergencies not only trigger physiological effects per se but psychological as well.

That values can cushion us from the rage of unprecedented increases in temperature and rainfall might appear a farfetched remedy but a full analyzing of drought and floods manifestation will doubtlessly reveal greater gains where ethics is given fair space.

 

Obed Nyangena and Tabitha Odera, Researchers