NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s capacity to respond to
negative impacts of climate change has suffered a severe blow as
floods continue to wreak havoc in many parts of the country this
long rain season.
The East African nation has
experienced unprecedented flooding that has claimed an estimated
70 lives while destroying critical infrastructure since the
middle of March when the long rains season begun.
Latest update from the meteorological department indicates
that the heavy rains accompanied by flash floods could extend up
So far, the low lying arid and semi-arid regions have borne
the brunt of flooding which has cut off major road networks
hence creating a humanitarian crisis.
The major urban centers too have not been spared as storm
waters disrupt flow of traffic while clogging fragile drainage
systems to the detriment of people’s health.
Environmentalists said the current flooding was a
confirmation that Kenya is yet to establish strong policy,
institutional and infrastructural safeguards against negative
impacts of climate change.
John Kioli, the Chairman of a grassroots lobby, Kenya Climate
Change Working Group, said the country should review a national
climate change response strategy launched five years ago to
enhance its response to natural calamities like floods and
"We are yet out of the woods as far as climate change
adaptation and mitigation is concerned hence the need to
reorganize our strategies in order to deal with disasters such
as the current floods more effectively," Kioli said.
Kenya has enacted one of the most progressive legislations
and policies to deal with climate change though the phenomenon
continues to pose immense threat to the country’s ecological
treasures, economy and livelihoods.
Kioli blamed weak enforcement, under-funding and limited
public awareness for lethargic response to adverse impacts of
climate change in the country.
"We could have averted deaths and destruction to our
environment and physical infrastructure due to current floods if
we invested in deterrent measures like reforestation, water
harvesting and dredging of rivers and dams," said Kioli.
The East African nation has domesticated global climate
treaties in a bid to accelerate low carbon development that is
greener and inclusive.
The East African Nation has endorsed the Paris climate deal
of 2015 which commits nations to redouble their contributions
towards reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Kenya’s revised climate change response strategy says the
country will double investments in renewable energy,
reforestation and protection of water towers to reduce the
frequency and intensity of droughts as well as floods.
As the country reels from devastating floods, experts are
calling on the central and county governments to prioritize
investments in long-term deterrent measures like construction of
additional water storage facilities in semi-arid regions.
Robert Muthami, a Nairobi-based climate and social justice
advocate, said that Kenya’s vulnerability to negative impacts of
climate change remained profound, hence the need to devise new
and robust coping mechanisms.
"The grassroots communities in particular have a higher level
of vulnerability to recurrent drought cycles and flooding during
"We must therefore come up with an ambitious strategy to
strengthen our resilience as climate change disrupts livelihoods
and health of ecosystems," said Muthami.
He stressed that Kenya’s ability to sustain inclusive growth,
competitiveness and stability hinges on robust action on climate