Promoting climate change governance in Kenya
By Kikonde Righa
Trócaire is implementing a new project in Turkana for improving food security through climate change governance
Turkana is one of the most challenging places in the world to live. A staggering four in every five people are living below the poverty line. This remote arid region of Northern Kenya is feeling the effects of climate change, with persistent droughts being followed by invasive floods.
Trócaire and local partner organization Caritas Lodwar have launched a new 23-month project that aims at addressing issues on climate change governance in Turkana County. The project is funded by UK Aid through the Department for International Development (DFID). The project us under the Deepening Democracy Programme (DDP) that aims to contribute to more inclusive, responsive and accountable governance in Kenya.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Basic Report on Well-Being in Kenya 2015-2016, Turkana has been ranked as the poorest county in Kenya. 79% of its population live below the poverty line compared to a national average of 31.6%.
Harsh climatic conditions are exacerbated by the ongoing effects of climate change. This leads to food and livelihoods insecurity coupled with environmental degradation and conflict over natural resources.
Furthermore, Turkana County Government does not yet have a robust governance framework for managing the risks posed by climate change and exploitative natural resource use for poor and vulnerable communities. Persistent droughts which are mostly followed by invasive floods have greatly reduced the resilience of communities and their ability to bounce back.
Influencing policy reforms
The purpose of this new project is to contribute to an accountable, inclusive governance framework for pro-poor, ecosystem based climate change adaptation in Turkana.
This will be achieved by:
- Strengthening the capacity of government institutions and duty bearers to develop pro-poor climate change sensitive policies,
- Training community members on climate change to enable them to influence policy,
- Supporting community groups to develop and adopt ecosystem-based climate change adaptation strategies.
Launch of the project
The launch event of the project was held in Lodwar town, and was attended by different stakeholders including representatives from the county government, community members from the project sites, and NGOs such as Childfund, UNICEF, World Vision, GIZ, among others.
Speaking during the event, Trócaire Kenya Country Director Eithne Brennan presented Trócaire’s organisational values, telling the crowd of the need to persevere on the issue of climate change since it affected everything we did.
“Trócaire is committed to work with the people of Turkana in this project,” she said, highlighting how Trócaire has been supporting work in Turkana since the 1970s, and mentioned the recent opening of Trócaire’s sub-office located at the Holy Family Kanamkemer Parish in Lodwar.
She further added that climate change has had a huge effect on the people of Turkana, and that everyone, including the Kenyan government, needed to be accountable for what they were doing to mitigate these effects.
Also present was Joseph Akure representing DFID Kenya who expressed that the programme was anchored on rights and accountability, in order to create awareness of climate change and create demand for services such as climate change adaptation from the county government.
“It is my expectation that when Trócaire implements the project, communities can demand action from members of the county assembly,” he said, further urging communities to embrace the project and participate fully to enhance sustainability.
Hon. James Abei from the Turkana County Government reiterated the role of the county assembly in creating laws to help mitigate issues affecting citizens. “I’m happy that this project has come at a time when we need it the most,” he stated, adding that he would work to ensure knowledge is utilized to assist the county develop climate change mitigation policies.
As the project kicks off, there is confidence that policy makers, community groups and stakeholders will work together to bring about climate change governance reforms for the good of the citizens of Turkana county who continue experiencing the ravages brought about by climate change.