Climate services and subsidised fertilizer programmes must be synchronised

As the economy begins to open up and people focus on production in this era of the Covid-19 pandemic, one group that needs concerted support is small scale farmers. More than 78 per cent of Kenya’s food comes from small scale farmers while over 65 per cent of economically active people are employed across different points of the agriculture value chain. Given the reality of climate change, it is now well acknowledged that seasonal patterns are shifting and climate extremes, particularly droughts and floods are becoming more frequent. This means that the optimal “window of production” for farmers is no longer predictable. One of the most needed services for small scale farmers, most of whom practise rain-fed agriculture, is climate information generally and information about the onset of rains specifically. In recognition of the value of small scale farming to the overall economy, the government has recently (in the the course of the last 10 years) been providing subsidised fertil

Radical Plan to salvage Nairobi River and the Athi basin is urgently needed

Since 16 th August 2019 when the Daily Nation published the first instalment of the story about the wanton pollution of Nairobi River titled Toxic Flow , many expected the responsible authorities to urgently swing into action to address the tragic situation. Nearly two months since we read the series of articles, which was hailed as a masterpiece in investigative journalism, Kenyans are still waiting. Readers were moved by the horrific details which were comprehensively captured and backed with scientific evidence showing that toxic cancer-causing pollutants course down the more than 400 kilometres the river travels before pouring into the Indian Ocean. Lacking any alternatives, many residents of Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Tana River and Kilifi counties continue consuming the water and with it all the heavy metals known to induce cancer and other serious ailments. The lack of action to address this appears to go against ongoing efforts to realise the universal health pillar of

Combining climate action with agri-business key in transforming Africa

An emerging school of thought about implications of climate change  sheds light on a dimension of the phenomenon that is rarely given due attention - opportunities brought about by climate change. Proponents of this perspective, such as Dr Richard Munang, who heads the UN Environment’s Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security (EBAFOSA), are convinced that opportunities resulting from climate change can hold the answers to the continent’s perennial problems including youth unemployment and food insecurity. They feel that implementing actions to counter the negative impacts of climate change without linking them directly to outcomes that confer tangible day to day benefits to communities makes such actions unsustainable.    On the other hand, combining climate actions with economically empowering innovations that counter the negative impacts of climate change guarantees the sustainability of those actions and the improvement of the livelihoods of communities. They, therefore,

Vibrant bloggers workshop zeroes in on environment and climate change

More than 45 bloggers recently gathered in Naivasha for an exciting training workshop on blogging around issues of the environment with special emphasis on climate change. The workshop, which ran between 25 th and 28 th April 2019, was the second of its kind, the first having been convened in Kisumu last year. It was hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as an initiative of its Green Growth and Employment Project and the Directorate of Environmental Education and Awareness in partnership with the Climate Change Directorate. Most of the participating bloggers were members of the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE), whose popularity has risen rapidly over the past three years. BAKE is a community association of Kenya bloggers and content creators which promotes online content creation and free expression in Kenya. It was formed in 2011 after a series of discussions concerning access to information and consumption of online content in the country. It has become a

Kenya commits to highly ambitious mitigation targets

Kenya has remained at the forefront in making policies to strengthen its ability to adapt to the adverse effects of climate, take advantage that might result from the phenomenon and to meet ambitious mitigation targets. It will be recalled that mitigation to climate change involves taking measures to reduce the volume of greenhouse gases (GHGs) getting into the atmosphere or reducing GHGs already present there. During the most recent global negotiations held during the 24 th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - popularly known as CoP 24 held in Katowice, Poland between 2 nd and 14 th December 2018, Kenya reiterated its mitigation target of reducing by 30 per cent GHGs' emission by 2030. Mitigation is usually a complicated undertaking, particularly for developing countries. The reality is that countries with advanced economies achieved their development through the exploitation of natural resources from within and outsi

Global climate change response might gain from US Democrats’ mid-term elections win

The declaration on June 1, 2017, by US President Donald Trump that the US would withdraw its commitment to the Paris Agreement seemed to confirm what many already suspected: that Trump might become the climate change denier in chief. Indeed, the leadership and rank and file supporters of the Republican Party are largely perceived as less supportive of efforts to counter the negative impacts of climate change than their counterparts in the Democratic Party. This perception has spurred hope among many that the recent win by Democrats, who took more than 30 seats in Congress during the November 6 mid-term elections, might herald an era of reinstatement of climate change policies formulated by the Obama administration, which Trump and his key appointees reversed or watered down since his ascendancy to the Presidency. According to an October 11, 2018 commentary by Randy Showstack in Earth and Space News , the win by Democrats signals the increased possibility for the enactment of

Conservation agriculture and climate change, why the buzz?

There are sustained efforts by various public and non-governmental agencies to promote conservation agriculture (CA) as an effective strategy for environmental conservation generally and climate change adaptation specifically. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) regards conservation agriculture as a crop production method that strives to achieve profits, sustained production levels while concurrently conserving the environment. The technique involves minimal disturbance of the soil while planting and weeding farms. There are three rules that need to be followed for a practice to be regarded as CA. These are: do not turn the soil, keep the soil covered, and rotate crops. It combines several basic principles namely: reduction in tillage; retention of adequate levels of crop residues and soil surface cover; and use of crop rotation. Immediate climate change related benefits from the practice include reduced emission of carbon dioxide stored ben