Collective action vital in managing emergencies

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/PSCU

 The coronavirus pandemic has opened a floodgate of information on challenges that bind humanity and why a collective response is paramount in alleviating them. 

Correspondingly, technology has created an information platform with a stream of knowledge from thought leaders and experts that are helping determine action on emergencies such as those wrought by Covid-19.

Already, it has been scientifically proved that there is a lot that links the coronavirus outbreak and our environmental problems.

Based on this knowledge, governments are obliged to consider it an important factor in the war against the virus and other natural disasters. 

Kenya must draw lessons from this wealth of scientific knowledge and adopt concrete measures to tackle the triple threat of health and safety, environmental destruction and economic decline exacerbated by the virus. 

We now know that despite the unprecedented and devastating dynamics of the pandemic, there are crucial insights into how international and local systems should respond to worldwide and localised emergencies.

On top of the deadly virus, Kenya is again experiencing flooding, landslides, food and water shortages, which have exposed citizens’ vulnerabilities to the forces of nature and man’s destructive acts. 

Now is the time for strong political will and radical government action to strengthen the ability and capacity to tackle emergencies and perennial long-term crises such as the floods ravaging livelihoods and the ecosystem.

Arthur Wyns, a climate change advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO), says we are living in a society with unseen levels of inequality, environmental degradation and climate destabilisation, as well as new surges in populism, conflict, economic uncertainty, and mounting public health threats.

“Crises like these offer an opportunity for a regained sense of shared humanity, in which people realise that what matters most is the health and safety of loved ones, community, country and fellow global citizens.

Both the unfolding climate crisis and pandemic threaten this one thing we care about,” he says.

Kenya and its neighbours need to work closely to address common problems relating to health, the environment and the economy. 

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni last week displayed the urgency of strong political will when launching a fleet of vehicles to help in the war against the pandemic, stating: “We have been engaged in the fight against three major issues - this coronavirus, desert locusts and the rising water levels of Lake Victoria.”

Under the East African Community, regional leaders established the Lake Victoria Basin Commission to coordinate various interventions and serve as a centre for sharing information among stakeholders.

The commission should address and find a permanent solution to shared challenges such as the current flooding disaster.

Scientists have made ominous assessments on the lake basin, which is a source of food, energy, drinking and irrigation water, shelter, transport and also a toxic repository for human, agricultural and industrial waste.

Together with the forces of nature attributed to climate change and the growing high population of the riparian communities, the multiple activities in the lake basin have generated conflict and rendered the lake environmentally unstable.

Since the 1980s, the lake ecosystem has undergone substantial and alarming changes.

This perennial vicious cycle can be mitigated through regional cooperation, and policy and legal interventions based on proven research findings. 

The leadership must decisively act now to curb the pain and suffering caused by drought, flooding, hyacinth, destruction of crops, livestock deaths, pests and famine that ultimately results in food insecurity.[email protected]

More on News