Climate change is caused by human activities and is threatening the way people live and the future of our planet. The global agenda on addressing climate change is geared towards building a sustainable world for all of us.
Acting on climate change will improve individual and public health, re-engineer cleaner air and improve water and soil quality. These will, subsequently, lead to a significant reduction in rates of hospitalisation, illness and mortality, particularly for children, seniors and those facing existing health challenges. Climate change is also increasing the frequency of extreme weather events such as heat waves, storms, and floods.
Research shows most rural communities are ignorant of climate change issues yet they are the most vulnerable to them. They are unaware of the unpredictability of indigenous knowledge systems. They lack resources and techno-science adaptive methods, support to implement viable mitigation strategies and information about resilience and adaptive capacity to climate change.
Education is crucial in promoting climate action and this can be harnessed to make rural folks informed on climate change issues. It will help them to understand and address the impact of the climate crisis and empower them with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed to act as agents of change. It can encourage people to change their attitudes and behaviour and also help them to make informed decisions. How can this be done?
First, and more fundamental, the government can establish staffed advocacy centres in all 47 counties. These can be used to educate the communities at the grassroots to better understand the risks and effects of climate change on health and other consequences. They will also motivate and facilitate both behavioural change and societal support for the actions needed to reduce that which causes climate change.
The advocacy centre staff will ensure the community’s voice is heard on matters climate change that is important to them, besides the protection and promotion of their rights. They will further have the views and wishes of people at the grassroots on climate change effects genuinely considered when decisions are being made by the government that concern their lives.
The government can consider integrating climate change education into the school curriculum at all levels to ensure effective learning and a deep understanding of the subject matter. That is besides raising awareness of and promoting the development of the knowledge and skills necessary for responding to climate change.
Dr Kapkiai is a lecturer in the School of Education and Human Resource Development at Kisii University. [email protected].