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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Kenyan campaigner urges action on climate crisis in coastal region

Kenya should intensify action on the climate crisis in the coastal region that has disrupted livelihoods of predominantly fishing and pastoralist communities, Nairobi-based Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) says.

Mithika Mwenda
Executive Director of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Mithika Mwenda

“We have seen rapid deforestation, which has reduced forests and coastal wetlands, endangered biodiversity, human livelihoods and wildlife,’’ Mithika Mwenda, Executive Director of PACJA, said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Mwenda noted that extreme weather events, which had become a regular phenomenon along the Kenyan coastline, had escalated food insecurity, vector-borne diseases and resource-based conflicts.

According to him, the destruction of mangrove forests and peat lands has undermined the ability of coastal communities to cope with climatic shocks like droughts and flooding.

He said the central government and devolved units should strengthen the protection of habitats, including wetlands and marine species as part of a climate adaptation strategy for coastal communities.

A bottom-up climate response strategy should be implemented at the Kenyan coast where sea-level rise and loss of species threaten the survival of fishing communities, Mwenda said.

He said a community-led climate action implemented by the PACJA and its partners in the upper eastern Kenyan county of Meru with success should be replicated in the coastal region.

“We have tried and tested the benefits of a locally-led climate action project called Tujiinue Tena (Let us lift ourselves again), in Meru county and it will be ideal to implement it in the coastal region,’’ he said.

Mwenda said the theme of the just concluded World Environment Day, “Ecosystems Restoration’’, should serve as a rallying call for coastal communities to reclaim biodiversity hotspots that anchor their livelihoods.

Dhadho Gaddae Godhana, governor of the Kenyan coastal county of Tana River, said climate change had undermined agricultural productivity, while escalating loss of indigenous biodiversity that local communities rely on for food, fiber and medicine.

He said climate-induced migration and competition for dwindling resources had jeopardised peaceful co-existence among subsistence farmers and pastoralists in the coastal region.

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