NAIROBI, August 18 – The government is in the process of establishing a Climate Change Centre.,
Environment Permanent Secretary Professor James Ole Kiyiapi said the national office will be tasked with coordinating and gathering information to assist in planning and building resilience.
He said this was necessitated by the impacts of climate change that were already being felt in the country.
“We will soon be publicising this so that people know that there is a one stop place that you can go to and get all the information on what is happening with climate change,” the PS informed.
Ole Kiyiapi said the office would be fully operational by December.
“That will help us in developing a national climate change strategy which will help us come up with priority interventions,” he said.
The PS also noted that Kenya would be a step ahead in mitigating the impacts of climate change if efforts were made to increase forest cover.
“This would give the country capacity to trap water, increase underground water so these are the practical things that we can do,” Ole Kiyiapi said.
“We are already developing a project concept to attract Carbon credit funding for Mau forest, Marmanet forest and Bahati forest.”
Presently, the country’s forest cover is estimated to be at 1.7 percent based on a national inventory exercise conducted between 1989 and 1993. This is way below the recommended 10 percent.
But the Kenya Forest Service has embarked on another exercise to establish the exact forest cover.
At the same time, Director of Meteorological Services Dr Joseph Mukabana said by building resilience to the impacts of climate change, the government would ensure sustainable livelihood for the citizenry.
“One of the best things to do is capacity building so that we know what to do and at least start doing it. If we are ignorant then we may not know and we may do things that may accelerate our perishing,” he advocated.
“So the climate is sick, it has a high fever and we need to treat it well to ensure that it does not throw us off when it sneezes.”
They were speaking at the opening of a two day regional workshop to address critical issues of climate change where the participants will focus on how to develop strategies for climate change adaptation, funding needed to develop programs and how Africa can take advantage of the carbon market.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Northern Kenya and other Arid Areas Ibrahim Mohammed Monday said the government would be partnering with the World Bank to develop a strategy that would enable pastoralists better adapt to climate change.
Mohammed said that the strategy would cover five out of the 28 districts where arid lands projects are currently ongoing.
“The ‘Kenya Adaptation to Climate Change in the Arid Lands’ will provide additional resources to help deal with the additional threats posed by climate change in arid lands,” the Minister stated.
Speaking at the launch of a report on climate change done by Oxfam, Mohammed said the government recognized that effective action on climate change required a response that embraced the principles of sustainable development and poverty alleviation.
He added that he would be requesting for more funds from treasury to enable his ministry better carry out its mandate.
During the last budget read in June by Former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya the Ministry was allocated Sh2.5 billion.
Mohammed said “The ministry was formed when budget plans were already done. We will be claiming an extra Sh420 million from the government’s supplementary budget.”
The Paper by Oxfam suggested that pastoralists could easily adapt to climate change and support others in the face of unpredictable weather conditions.
The report titled Survival for the fittest however indicated that pastoral communities continued to be ignored and their adaptability could not be realized without government support.
Oxfam’s Regional Programmes Development Manager, Richard Grahn, said whether pastoralists would adapt to the impacts of climate change depended on how their environmental and developmental challenges were tackled by the government.
He said the government should develop policies that do not marginalize the pastoral communities noting that they made a significant contribution to the gross domestic product with the provision of majority of the meat consumed.
The report focused on pastoralists living in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.