Climate stakeholders have urged communities in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands in Kenya to be at the forefront in taking action to mitigate climate change in their regions.
During the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) 6th Annual Regional Conference, under the theme “Accelerating Economic Development for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs),” climate actors from the ASAL regions advised that empowering communities will provide sustainable solutions for better climate action.
The 3-day convergence brought climate policymakers experts, and stakeholders to discuss sustainable development strategies specifically for the ASAL regions, the university students youth attending the conference highlighted the pressing challenges faced by ASALs.
According to Wycliffe Amakobe, the energy and climate specialist at Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG), communities that live in the ASAL areas face a lot of challenges which are further increased by climate change issues especially when drought strikes.
Similarly, Amakobe stated that when the rain comes, the same communities become victims of floods.
“We saw recently in northern Kenya when we had floods last year, it was just happening immediately after they had experienced drought and the drought has become very frequent. So climate change actually has made their lives very difficult,” he said.
Amakobe underscored that KCCWG ensures that they put their members in a position to be able to understand the reason why they have to prioritize climate change interventions starting from a personal level, and household level to a community level and a government position.
This he said is achieved through capacity building in terms of the dynamics of climate change to have an understanding and as well as putting them in a position where they can advocate for climate change actions.
“Being an advocate institution, we are very keen to build the capacity of the communities to be able to influence positive policy from county government position to a national government position and even at the international level,” outlined Amakobe.
One of the key Interventions that KCCWG is piloting together with the national government is the financing locally-led climate actions (FLLoCA).
This is meant to ensure that the communities take the lead in prioritizing their climate change actions.
Through this they look at the main problem facing the community, and how they can then prioritize what should work for them from now in the next years to come.
“So under participatory climate risk assessment, we are able to guide the communities on how they can be able to assess and prioritize the vulnerabilities and actions that need to address those vulnerabilities so that when climate change shocks happen, they are in a position to bounce back,” he said.
However, he decried the lack of enough sustainable resources which then forces them to lobby from other countries.
“We have to lobby those countries that are responsible for increasing greenhouse gas emissions to be responsible in terms of providing resources that will help our communities which are more vulnerable to be able to adapt,” he added.
Lynn Modesta who is a youth programs coordinator at KCCWG, outlined that financing locally-led climate action through World Bank has allowed access to more funds at the community levels.
This they achieve through forming world climate change planning committees, where they are able to approve the budgets for the programs.
She urged communities to take advantage of the funding and help themselves to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change in the ASAL regions which have been hard hit.
She ascertained that the organization is already the bridge to the gap between climate change policies and their implementation.
So far, KCCWG is implementing Climate change action programs for sustainable development in 45 counties in Kenya, excluding Nairobi and Mombasa counties.
Funding of ASAL communities for better climate sustainability
Brian Seronei, the chair of the Kenya Interuniversity Environmental Students Association (KIUESA) outlined that the key engagement in the conference was to promote the urgent need for a whole system approach to climate action, with a particular emphasis on ASALs.
This is especially with regard to sustainable development.
He added that ASAL regions are characterized by delicate ecosystems and vulnerable communities, which demand specialized attention and comprehensive approaches to effectively tackle the climate crisis.
Additionally, Seronei said that recognizing the critical role of young voices in shaping climate action, there is a need to develop more platforms for passionate youth advocates from various backgrounds to call for targeted measures in addressing climate change in ASALs.
The students proposed Climate Finance and uptake to innovative solutions to address them with an objective of raising awareness and inspiring action among a wider audience, shedding light on the urgent need for tailored climate action strategies in these regions.
“By engaging with these passionate young leaders and experts, there is the opportunity to gain valuable insights into the specific initiatives being undertaken, the policy recommendations put forth, and the potential impact of these efforts on the sustainable development of ASALs especially,” said Seronei.
Moreover, he added that in an effort to contribute to the ongoing dialogue surrounding climate change, there is a need to inspire other young people to join the cause and hence urge policymakers to prioritize ASALs in their climate action strategies towards economic growth and development.
Ms Edith Santiyan the founder of Nalala Tree Foundation in Kajiado county called on community empowerment for the development of ASAL regions.
She outlined that the more ASAL regions are developed and the more acceleration to the economic activities in those regions, the better the climate sustainability.
“climate sustainability actually is a necessity for people to get economically build up because when people are not build up in economic then it would be like you are doing zero work to maintain climate change or rather to boost climate change in some regions,” stressed Santiyan.
Santiyan lauded the involvement of the youth in climate policy action in the just concluded KIPPRA convention, and urged them to expand the policy-making to the local region to be able to explain to the local people in the local dialect.
Additionally, she called on the government to help fund the ideas that the youth have citing that regardless of how good they are implementations only rely on the government’s goodwill.
“When you sit with the youth and listen to the kind of issues they air and the presentations they do, they are extremely incredible but the problem is the implementation process, and what limits the infant then implementations is actually the funds,” said Santayana