We mustn’t sit pretty as climate change ruin lives

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019 07:59 |
Climate change. Photo/Courtesy

A story is told of an old man who was having a friendly chat with his grandson. The young man regarded the grandfather wise and all-knowing. In this particular tête-à-tête, the teenager chooses to test the wisdom of his grandpa. He asks him to prognosticate his future. “Grandpa, I would like to know how exactly my future looks. Bright or uncertain?” he asked him.

Puzzled but keen to protect his perceived acumen, the old man asked the teen to bring him a grasshopper and a piece of charcoal. He obliged. Then the wise man bends down and draws three circles on the ground, using the charcoal. On one circle he places the grasshopper and on the other two inscribes the words “bright future” and “troubled future”.

The young man’s answer is to be determined by the direction the grasshopper takes. They both sat and watched the insect make the initial steps (hops, if you like). Unbeknownst to the teenager, the insect was to choose for him a “troubled future” but just before it hopped into the circle of doom, he hastily grabbed it and put it in the preferred circle.

“Thank you, my grandson,” the old man told him nodding his head. “Your future is bright. Don’t let anyone or anything under the sun, including this silly grasshopper, determine the future for you. You are the driver of the vessel called ‘life’ and God is your guide.”

The world, Kenya included, has found itself in a situation akin to that of the teenager courtesy of climate change.  Individually, as a nation and the world at large, we are faced with an enormous responsibility to decide the future of Mother Nature—to save it or watch as it gets ruined by effects of climate change, which are becoming severer by the day.

The government, for instance, through its various agencies must put in place deliberate strategic measures to save the environment.

For avoidance of doubt, climate change is real and is firming its grip of the East African region over the past couple of decades. With it, threatening livelihoods of millions of livestock and crop farmers.

Granted, most of the factors exacerbating effects of climate change can directly be linked to human activities while some are out of human control. Yet, deliberate measures could go a long way in preventing and mitigating effects of climate change or recouping the damage caused by the same.

Commendably, the government has done quite well in this front, including subscribing to the Africa Union’s Africa Risk Capacity programme, partnering with insurance companies through the Government Livestock Insurance Programme to insure livestock for interested farmers in eight northeastern counties as well as allocating billions of shillings in national and county budgets for disaster management some of which are climate change-related.

However, much more needs to be done, starting with the expansion of the aforementioned measures. For instance, just this weekend it was reported that residents of Turkana, one of the counties under the government’s livestock insurance programme, have lost hundreds of livestock and livelihoods to raging floods following heavy rains that have seen Kawalase seasonal river and River Turkwel burst banks.

It would be a relief to pastoralists, for example, if the insurance programme—which only covers drought—was extended to cover floods and livestock diseases that are linked to effects of climate change.

Last week, it was reported that 20 people died and more than 20,000 families displaced following heavy rains across the country. The downpours have left a trail of destruction, which the government, through proper strategies, can insure its citizens against.

The destruction is likely to continue after the Meteorological Department warned last week warned that the downpour is likely to increase in some parts of the country. 

Again, like the young man in the story, concerned authorities must not sit and watch the fate of millions of Kenyans sealed by the unpredictable weather patterns.

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