By James Ochieng

Leaders call for urgent adaptation actions towards climate change during the seventh devolution conference held in Makueni County in Kenya.

The meeting whose theme was ‘Multi-level Governance for Climate Action: Sub National Mobilization in Unlocking the Full Potential of Climate Action during and after pandemics was officially opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta who pointed out the challenges climate change has caused and called on Kenyans to quickly adopt the climate adaptation strategies.

Speaking virtually, Uhuru said that climate change impacts had led to a loss of about three per cent of the Gross Domestic Product annually and caused other calamities and disasters.

“In the last two years, we witnessed the worst locust outbreak in 25 years, which left about one million people food-insecure in the Horn of Africa. The rising water levels of the Rift Valley Lakes, Lake Victoria, and Turkwel Gorge Dam have displaced nearly 400,000 people in thirteen counties and affected biodiversity, including flamingoes in Lake Nakuru,” Uhuru said.

The president added that through a partnership with the County Governments, the two institutions are sending a clear political statement that Kenya will continue to work with other like-minded governments, institutions, businesses, and civil societies to accelerate action to moderate the negative impacts of climate change, facilitate adjustment to expected climate impacts and strengthen capacity to absorb, and recover from climate change effects.

“We will also be seeking to attract green investments such as the electric boda bodas, launched last week, and to tap into innovative finance such as blended financing to de-risk private investment. These efforts will open new avenues for green manufacturing and new job opportunities,” he added.

“Climate mitigation will require a global solution while climate adaptation needs local solution and that’s where the counties and devolved levels come in the picture,” read statement by H.E Ambassador Ole Thonke the chair of the devolution donor working group which was read by Doctor Juma Nyende the director of Eastern Africa Regional office of the United cities and local governments of Africa.

He also added that there is a need for everyone to listen to scientists and what they say because with the current emission and the way the world is turning, temperatures are expected to soar up to a high of 2.7 degrees Celsius and is likely to range in different places.

“The effect of climate change is being felt and if nothing is done then it will worsen. Climate change is an important issue and should be included in major discussions,” said Ndegwa Wahome, the speaker of Nyandarua and chairman of the counties assembly forum.

“The worst is yet to come if we do not plan well and start acting now as is the case. Climate change cannot be discussed at a better time and must take a central stage on any discourse going forward, it must be a priority conversation equal or higher than the various economic models that is being talked about.”

Leaders explained how they are going to solve this issue of climate change especially in areas which were at a higher risk of feeling the effects of climate change.

“We are going to discuss the implementation modalities of ensuring sub-national governments are part of the whole process. This is an opportunity to discuss important issues of the changing climate especially for communities that are at a risk of the climate challenge, and explain to them how to combat it,” said Kivutha Kibwana the governor of Makueni County.

Acknowledging the progress made by counties, the Former Prime minister Raila Odinga said currently 33 County Governments have developed county specific laws on climate change while others are at different stages of formulation.

“Counties of Makueni, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo and Kitui, have established policies and supporting legislation on climate change.  They also have established climate change units; and put into operation a Fund for climate change mechanism and there is need to have a National Climate Council that is situated within the presidency.”

However, he noted that the enablers of the economy, that is agriculture, water, energy, tourism and wildlife are extremely climate sensitive and if not tackled carefully then climate change will ruin all the efforts that the country had put to grow the economy.