Established Tree nursery at Pap Kadundo Biotechnology center in Seme Sub-county ( Picture by David Wadulo)
The Kisumu county government recognizes the increased threat of extreme weather and how climate change impacts on the county’s economic and social development.
Just like other parts of the country, Kisumu is facing the vagaries of weather, brought about by Climate change.
Flooding has displaced thousands of people. Rivers are breaking their banks and the water levels on Lake Victoria have risen to an all-time high, destroying investments and affecting fishing activities.
To help mitigate this, it has set up a directorate to deal with climate change. Through this directorate, the county government has set out an ambitious plan to transform Kisumu into a climate-resilient, low-carbon society that is sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive. According to the directorate led by Mr. Evans Gichana, emergency climate change requires adequate and immediate action to mitigate the environmental changes in terms of where we live, how we grow food and other services vital to the well-being.
The devastating effects of climate change, from long periods of drought, more frequent floods, duration, and intensity of rains, are being felt in Kisumu with an intensity that underscores the immediate need for concerted efforts. This indicated a tangible sign that the global climate is changing fast because of human activities.
As the county directorate of climate change, supporting residents in raising their climate efforts to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts. This is an important step to empower the County to respond to the challenge of climate change, in line with county and national priorities and plans.
By playing a leading role in sensitization and capacity building on the new investment opportunities that reduce deforestation and forest degradation. The directorate through its stakeholders is set to establish and equip biotechnology centers in all sub-counties in Kisumu, with a model biotechnology center established in Seme as plans are underway to ope rationalize by equipping and staffing the center in the second phase of the project.
The biotechnology center will be used to facilitate acceleration and promotion of the development of renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency as part of the sustainable energy for all initiative and climate mitigation efforts by the county government of Kisumu.
Kisumu is widely considered one of the most vulnerable counties in Kenya in terms of the impacts of climate change. More intense and frequent floods and droughts have often caused immense loss of life and damage to infrastructure, food security and put its renowned biodiversity and natural resources under increasing pressure.
Compared to many other counties, Kisumu is currently much less prepared to respond to the challenges of global warming especially in investments in climate-friendly actions towards increasing resilience to a recurrent climate- environmental threats.
Since the formation of the directorate over the past few years, Kisumu County climate change directorate has been involved in a project to help integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation into county’s policies designed to raise awareness about climate change impacts, build capacity among the county executive and the county assembly to address the impacts of climate change and develop and implement local approaches to identifying and addressing climate change vulnerabilities across the county.
According to the directorate, mainstreaming climate change into the county policy development and reform agenda has not been an easy task given that the program was established during a transition in governance in Kisumu, says County climate change experts. “Implementation had to be able to navigate the changing landscape of governance as a new administration is being developed.”
The achievements of the directorate to date include:
The establishment of an institutional structure to coordinate action on climate change at the county and national level in the form of the Technical Working Group.
Awareness-raising on the importance of incorporating climate change adaptation and mitigation considerations into day-to-day processes of governance and also improving local action to improve resilience to climate change and disasters.
Development of a climate change strategy and policy framework. The project also contributed to the formulation of intended county determined contributions.
The fostering of a group of “champions” for climate change with a greater professional and technical understanding of climate change and its impacts on sectors relevant to Kisumu’s economy.
The mainstreaming of climate change into sectors including urban planning, agriculture, education and natural resources’ development.
Initiating tree planting in-school programs to educate and promote the importance of trees in mitigating carbon emission.
In partnership with the private sector and non-governmental organizations, the climate change directorate has mainstreamed capacity development and training communities and institutions on climate-smart projects and opportunities including flood and drought mitigation strategies.
Meanwhile, the directorate has also stressed the importance of encouraging the community to adopt climate change education to ensure concrete actions for a sustainable future.
The people’s understanding of what climate change is and how to act upon it is central to enacting political regulations financial and technological incentives related to climate change in the region.
By Matilda Atieno