A lobby of clerics has called on candidates in the Makueni governor’s race to prioritise climate change management in their manifestos.
“As religious leaders, we have been promoting the growing of trees and harvesting of rain water at the household level amongst our congregation,” said Fr Joseph Makite, the head of Mulala Catholic Mission.
“We want whoever becomes the next governor to commit to prioritise the conservation of wetlands and growing of trees on a bigger scale. He must also have a strategy to conserve water in all our streams and rivers to build resilience among the communities in the wake of droughts.”
The call came amid growing disquiet as the arid region remains in the throes of a high cost of living partly triggered by a prolonged drought.
A spot check by the Nation shows that a kilo of maize has hit Sh100, the highest ever, at some markets amid a shortage of the region’s staple food.
Fr Makite spoke at Makindu Catholic Church during a forum held by frontrunners in the Makueni governorship race and local pastors, sheikhs and Sikh priests.
The forum was the first of such meetings organised by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Council of Churches of Kenya, Muslim Council, Makindu Sikh Temple and Pentecostal churches.
The groups are championing peaceful and issue-based campaigns ahead of the August 9 General Election.
The consultative forum saw Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr, Kibwezi West MP Patrick Musimba and real estate business mogul David Masika set aside their political differences to discuss the issues raised by the clerics.
They hugged and joked, cutting a relaxed mien that sharply contradicts their charged campaigns.
Separately, the trio undertook to campaign when they got a chance to pitch their bids before the men of the cloth.
Infrastructure development takes centre stage in the manifestos of the three governor candidates.
They plan to set up more hospitals, build better roads and provide water to residents.
Mr Kilonzo, flying the Wiper flag, campaigns on the platform of enhancing services by ruthlessly fighting corruption and cultivating equity.
He has also pledged to form a caucus of all local leaders to enhance cohesion and service delivery in the country.
Commending the clerics for organising the forum, the senator challenged them to call out and lock out politicians who propagate hate speech.
Dr Musimba campaigns on the platform of making the county richer by growing its revenue from the current Sh12 billion to Sh120 billion annually through promoting entrepreneurship. He pledged to set up a virtual university in the county if he is elected.
The independent candidate has set tongues wagging in the region after drawing the endorsement of local allies of Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his main challenger, the Deputy President William Ruto when he launched his bid on Friday.
He told the clerics that he had chosen to remain partly-less so that he could be the glue that unites all the leaders in the region.
Mr Masika, the Orange Democratic Movement candidate, has prioritised aggressive rainwater harvesting among his plans to address water shortages and food insecurity while spurring agribusiness.
He also pledged to prioritise the planning of the towns in a bid to grow the economy by attracting high-value investors.