Let’s deal with climate-related conflicts

Silvana Lesuuda from Suguta in Samburu County speaks to journalists during the eighth annual national indigenous women conference in Isiolo on September 27, 2023. Calls for women involvement in climate change adaptation and mitigation dominated the three-day conference. 

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

Even as we marked the International Day of Peace on Thursday, there’s more at stake in the fight against climate change and it’s worth noting that climate crisis is not just an environmental challenge; it’s also a security issue.

The growing potential for conflicts associated with climate change and the resulting rise in insecurity in our society should be increasingly a subject of discussion.

Climate change-related environmental pressures increase competition for soil and water resources, create significant demands on disaster risk management and require careful planning and methodological prioritisation of the distribution of scarce public resources.

Additionally, with the high cost of living there is a risk of fresh regional and global crises and conflicts, as well as intensification of current conflicts of scarcity of resources.

Kenya is at a crucial turning point in the world as it struggles to overcome the numerous problems. It must urgently handle the complex relationship between the security of the environment and peace.

Climate change

Kenya’s susceptibility to the effects of climate change is glaringly obvious as a country recognised for its magnificent landscapes and diversified ecosystems. It also struggles with the need to uphold and strengthen peace and stability in an area that is frequently plagued by crises.

Kenya must step up to the plate right now and fight for a sustainable future where climate security and world peace coexist. The impact of climate change on every aspect of Kenyan life is now a present reality rather than a spectral threat.

Changes in rainfall patterns, protracted droughts, and extreme weather have a significant impact on Kenya’s ability to improve its agricultural, food security, and water resources. Rural areas that rely on rain-fed agriculture are caught in a cycle of poverty that is made worse by climatic challenges.

Urban areas struggle with a lack of water and the impact that migration from afflicted areas puts on the infrastructure. The repercussions are extensive and put societal cohesion in danger.

Tremendous progress

Climate change and security are inextricably linked; Kenya must face this truth head-on in as much as we have made tremendous progress in addressing these related problems.

The Kenyan government must give high priority to methods for enhancing resilience in communities that are at most risk from climate change; these policies must not only safeguard livelihoods but also lessen the likelihood of disputes over resources.

This can be achieved through disaster preparedness, water management systems, and climate-smart agriculture. The promotion of regional collaboration on climate security through borderless cooperation may help to successfully manage shared resources and prevent conflicts from spreading across borders due to the transnational nature of climate change.

Derrick Ouko, communication officer at Search for Common Ground, Kenya and Somalia