On October 22 ,2019, Eugene Wamalwa, CS, Ministry of Devolution and ASALs appeared on Citizen TV to discuss how prepared Kenya is to deal with climate change. While talking to Trevor Ombija, the minister’s response was not satisfactory.Kenyans took to social media to criticize him some saying that he was not being sincere with Kenyans. He could not explain why despite the weather man issuing warnings of expected floods, we still lost lives and properties.
According to Wamalwa, Kenya has done her best and even received global recognition for it. He went further to mention the interventions that government has put in place to avert the effects of climate change. One of the interventions is that the national government has institutionalized legal framework to deal with climate change. He further suggested that county governments should set a fund in place to build resilience. This fund is supposed to help counties to prevent effect of climate change or deal with it after it has happened. He further explained that when overwhelmed, the counties are expected to ask for help from the national government and when the national government is overwhelmed it should declare a national disaster.
What Wamalwa did not mention is that three years ago parliament passed a piece of legislation called Climate Change Act, 2016. According to the Act, section 3 (1) The Act shall be applied for the development, management, implementation and regulation of mechanisms to enhance climate change resilience and low carbon development for the sustainable development of kenya.
This Act is expected to be applied in all sectors of economy and national government to deal with climate change. This Act further established a body called National Climate Change Council which is supposed to be chaired by the President and the Deputy President as his vice chair. Eugene Wamalwa, who is the Cabinet Secretary for the ministry responsible for climate change is the secretary to the council.
Among many mandates that it has, this Council is expected to oversee and approve the implementation of the National Climate Change Action Plan. It is also expected to advice the national and county government on legislative, policy and other measures necessary for climate change response and attaining low carbon climate change resilient development.
All these activities have however been slowed down or halted because to date the council has not met, not even once. This fund was supposed to be used by counties and other entities to support communities that are already suffering. Unfortunately, that money amounting to around 1.8 trillion over the next five years cannot be released until the council sits and approves it.
This Action Plan that was supposed to be in action from last year cannot be implemented until the council sits and ratifies it. Read the full Act HERE
Effects of climate change
1.CS Eugene Wamalwa confirmed that 20 people have died due to floods this year.This number is however questionable and expected to be more .
2.Water borne diseases and Malaria now exists in places where they were unheard of https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jun/18/kenya-bednets-malaria-prevention-climate-change and https://www.who.int/globalchange/projects/adaptation/en/index6.html
- In 2017/2018, 3.4 million people we left starving https://www.nation.co.ke/counties/Over-2-million-Kenyans-face-starvation/1107872-5251942-7kcerkz/index.html
- Some parts of kenya are completely impassable due to floods hence interfering with peoples movements. Over 100,000 people have also been displaced this year . http://floodlist.com/africa/kenya-thousands-displaced-flooding-april-2018
- Livestock and crops have been lost due to drought and floods https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001346217/ten-killed-in-raging-floods
What journalists should do
- Document the effects of climate change in their respective counties.
- Find out what county governments are doing to mitigate the effects of climate change.
- Read the Climate Change Act,2016 and understand what is expected of both National and County Governments.
- Find out why the National Climate Change Council has not met three years down the line.
- Find out where the money budgeted to be used through the National Climate Change Council is, how do they plan to use it and what happens to what has not been used for the past couple of years?
By Carolyne Oyugi