Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called on Kenya to invest in multi-hazard early warning systems to effectively address crisis and disasters.
Speaking in Makueni during the 7th annual Devolution Conference, Carla Mucavi, FAO representative in Kenya said that the early warning systems will provide availability of the required data that will allow effective decision making.
“Those systems have the potential to ensure that action is taken in advance to avoid the catastrophic effects caused by disasters. Mobilizing for resources is not always easy but early action is important,” said Mucavi.
Kenya is one of the countries in Africa that has experienced prolonged crises mainly attributed to climate change. Drought and floods-related disasters have also been on the rise in frequency and intensity as well as the increase in livestock diseases incidences and pest’s invasion. The impacts due to the multiple disasters including desert locust invasions are evident and have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the recent COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Kenya’s pledge to avoid and reverse deforestation by 2030; to stop using coal, and to reduce methane gas emission.
In his virtual address to the Devolution Conference, President Kenyatta revealed that plans were underway for the Ministry of Environment to provide at least 42.5 million tree seedlings per county, bringing the total to two billion, which is the target required to take forest cover from 7.2 per cent currently to 10 per cent forest by 2030.
Currently, the country is experiencing three consecutive seasons of below-average rainfall affecting around 2.4 million Kenyans in 23 ASALs counties, facing food insecurity and in need of emergency assistance. As a result, the President of Kenya has declared a status of natural disaster.
UN/FAO has been at the forefront in supporting National and County governments to build resilience against shocks along with food systems through the provision of financial and technical support to various actors along agricultural values chains affected by droughts, floods, desert locusts.
“Resilience building is the way forward, we have to strengthen institutional capacities at local, county and national level for early warning, preparedness and rapid response in order to sustain the shockers and the crisis,” said Mucavi.
According to the FAO Country Representative, working together under the UN umbrella, the government, local communities, FAO was able to anticipate action and mobilize resources that allowed in responding to emergencies especially during the locust invasion in 2019 and 2021.
Similarly, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative Walid Badawi echoed the sentiments stating that, “Kenya has done relatively good in being able to attract climate finance in Africa,” adding that, “Relying on international finances is not going be enough.”
Climate change poses a critical threat to future development, particularly in developing countries where food security, water scarcity, urban poverty, high unemployment, increased industrialization activities and low access to quality healthcare is widespread and key assets such as infrastructure are underdeveloped for even current needs.
Kenya is bearing the brunt of climate change impacts and the associated socio-economic losses. The imperative to tackle climate change is a priority as the situation is exacerbated by the high dependence on climate-sensitive natural resources.