Jan 10, 2018

Time to leave the boardroom and act now

On Christmas day ideally what happens is you have a full belly and get a blanket to cuddle and listen to the rainfall. Last Christmas was different at least for the side of the world I was in. The sun was out and burning right under our feet.  If we stayed indoors it is because we could not walk in the heat.

If you talk to farmers or people in rural Kenya, there is this uncertainty that has engulfed us due to the failed rains. It is no rocket science we are soon going to have the “Kenyans for Kenya” plea once again. Too bad we need to wait for this for us to face the reality of climate change and the fact that its business unusual when it comes to the rains and food security in Kenya.

We have no rainfall and as sure as the sun will set today, there will be food shortage sometimes this year actually sooner than we did face the same last year and the year before and we will try and all act surprised that people are starving and dying. Even with the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) which has been in existence since 2016, drought and famine seem still to be an emergency in Kenya.  

NDMAs mandate is to ensure drought does not become an emergency by preparing the country for any food and water shortage that can be predicted. We also have the Climate Change Directorate (CCD) that has the mandate on all climate change related issues in Kenya. This has also been cascaded to the county governments where several counties have set up offices dedicated to climate change related matters. These include Uasin Gishu, Kisumu, Makueni, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, and Baringo among others.

The institutional and policy framework for the response to climate change is right in place. We have a national law on climate change and various institutions dedicated to different facets of climate change. The elephant in the room however remains, why do we still have starvation and death year in year out even with what could be referred to as sufficient policy and institutional framework?

Someone once said “Kenya does not have scarcity of law” far from it, we have good paper on our shelves and what we lack is the implementation framework of our laws to practical actions which will have the impact that has been envisioned in the millions of laws that we have. My challenge as we begin 2018 is to remove and do away with the technicality from climate change. It’s time the climate change agenda left the boardroom and is broken down for Wanjiku* who is still struggling to understand what it is. Climate change needs to be taken to people’s door steps.

Let my grandmother in the rural areas be enlightened on the importance of preserving food and how this can be done. Let there be someone who shows her how she can preserve fodder for her animals when it is available. The very debate we have had in the board room that we need to move away from rain fed agriculture should be broken down to her.

In my wisdom, I believe we had done enough strategy on responding to climate change. Enough information has been released on what’s ideal and the data is available. Time has come for the technocrats to leave the board room and face the reality on the ground. When we say Turkana is likely to loose X number of people in the next few months to drought we have not helped Turkana. Now that we have the statistics, there is a responsibility to ensure these people do not die from what wen could avert. Let us use these numbers to reach for solutions before and not after the drought.

My new years’ message is for us to leave the board room and face the reality head on. Let us take a trip to Samburu, Kitui, Turkana and other semi arid and arid counties when our people are still alive. Let us cut the many trips when we loose lives in the name of “we are one”. We have the opportunity to face this enemy head on before it bites. Let us leave the board room and hit the ground running.  

Picture courtesy: Kenya Wildlife Service

By Sarah Makena

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