Climate change barrier to MDGs, Govt says

A farm where maize plants are withering due to poor rainfall at Moiben in Uasin Gishu County. PHOTO/JARED NYATAYA

What you need to know:

  • The target for achieving the eight MDGs is 2015
  • The targets were set after the 2000 Millennium Summit by the UN included eradication of Poverty

The government has said changes in climate have been the biggest barrier to reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Ministry of Environment on Thursday admitted that as global warming and other extreme natural disasters are affecting achievement of MDGs.

“Our high dependency on climate-sensitive natural resources for our livelihoods will inherently increase our vulnerability to this phenomenon.

“Climate change is not only a threat to economic sustainability but has the potential to reverse the gains made in the efforts to achieve MDGs,” Mr Mulei Muia, Environment Ministry’s Director of Communications told a gathering in Nairobi.

Mr Muia was speaking at the announcement of 15 finalists for the African Climate Change and Environmental Reporting (ACCER) Awards.

The award is organised by the Pan African Climate Change Alliance and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

The target for achieving the eight MDGs is 2015. The targets were set after the 2000 Millennium Summit by the UN included eradication of Poverty, achieving universal education, gender equality, reducing child mortality, enhancing maternal health, fighting disease such as malaria and HIV/AIDS , environmental conservation and attaining global development partnerships.

Environmental conservation, the seventh target, is the foundation of all the rest.

Last month, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) a report that detailed devastating global warming effects in the country and called for an urgent need to put in place adaptation measures.

The UN panelists said those effects essentially touch on all the 8 goals and include increased diseases, severe flooding, food shortages and massive coastal flooding.

The coastal flooding for instance could cost Mombasa County more than Sh90 billion in losses by 2030, they argued.

“In Mombasa, by 2030 the population at risk of extreme water levels is estimated to be between 170,700 to 266,300 inhabitants, while economic assets at risk are between US$ 0.68 billion (Sh57.8 billion) and $1.06 billion (Sh90.1billion),” the report adds.

The government has already drafted a Bill on Climate Change meant to implement the Climate Change Action Plan of 2013.

Among the suggestions in the Plan include giving counties the lead role to spearhead local initiatives afforestation and conservation agricultural practices. The Bill is set to be tabled in Parliament.

“Kenya and the region in general have in the last few days come face-to-face with the unprecedented changes in the climate,” added Mr Muia.

He was referring to the recent drought in the Horn of Africa in which more than four million people in Kenya faced starvation in 2011.

Those people mainly in the northern arid areas were helped through the Kenyans4Kenya initiative, but the same region is facing another drought.

“Scientific evidence is quite overwhelming about the rising temperatures, the rising seas levels, and islands disappearing and increasing natural disasters. All these happenings call for urgent action and solutions at global, national and local levels,” he said.

Those nominated for the award include Nation journalists Zeinab Wandati, Rose Wangui and Patrick Mayoyo. Others are Kenyans Bob Koigi and Jacob Safari.

Winners will be announced on June 21 in Nairobi and will be given cash and trophies and will be sponsored to attend the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima, Peru this December.