Take decisive action on climate change impacts

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023 08:56 | By
Floods in Mandera in April 2023. PHOTO/KNA
Floods in Mandera in April 2023. PHOTO/KNA

Reports that 10 people have died in Kwale following heavy rains pounding the Coast and other parts of country should make the authorities more concerned about the impacts of climate change.

The floods havoc has left 10,307 families displaced in Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, Tana River and Taita Taveta counties. Hundreds more have been displaced and their crops and livestock swept away in other areas.

Ravaging floods have been reported in Garissa and Mandera which have experienced a devastating drought over the past four seasons. In Kisumu, at least 150 people have been forced to vacate their homes following heavy rains experienced in the last two weeks.

Warmer temperatures over time are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature. While we often think about human-induced climate change that will happen in the future, it is an ongoing process, with ecosystems and communities being impacted today.

Typical climate and weather-related events include floods such as those ravaging several parts of the country, heatwaves, drought, hurricanes, wildfires and loss of glacial, like what has been happening in Mt Kenya over the past few decades.

Nearly all land areas are seeing more hot days and heat waves. The past three years are among the hottest on record. The resultant disruptions pose many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on Earth.

Changes in temperature cause changes in rainfall, leading to more severe and frequent storms. These critical changes as a result of the climate crisis cause flooding and landslides, destroying homes, communities, crops and livestock while leaving losses running into billions of dollars.

Other effects of climate change include water becoming scarcer in more regions and many people suffering from not having enough water on a regular basis. Deserts are expanding, reducing land for growing food.

Things that we depend on and value such as water, energy, transportation, wildlife, agriculture, ecosystems, and human health are experiencing the effects of climate change.

Drought harms food production and human health. Flooding leads to the spread of disease and damage to ecosystems and infrastructure. Human health issues can increase mortality, impact food availability, and limit worker productivity. Climate change impacts are today seen through every aspect of our lives, should make the government pay closer attention to adaptation and mitigation measures.

Disaster risk management helps people understand and build resilience to climate change impacts.
Applying disaster risk reduction policies and strategies prevents new disaster risk, reduces existing disaster risk, and manages residual risk, thus contributing to the strengthening of resilience and reduction of disaster losses.

Long-standing inequities in our society have made the majority of the population in African countries who often have the highest exposure to hazards and fewest resources to respond, more vulnerable.

Experts believe there is still time to avoid the most negative outcomes of climate change by limiting global warming and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to zero as quickly as possible.

Citizens are demanding government action on climate change. The 2021/2023 Afrobarometer survey data indicates that majority of citizens across 39 African countries have heard of climate change and say it is making their lives worse.

African countries are taking an agenda to the UN Climate Conference (COP28) in Dubai next week that will take into account progress on its own development goals, and address issues such as energy access, food security, infrastructure and housing.

— The writer comments on environmental and climate issues.
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