Food Insecurity: Climate resilient practices key in combating shortage

Gladys Wanga, Governor Homa Bay County, flags off climate resilient seeds to areas hit with drought in Ndhiwa, Suba North and Suba South recently. PHOTO/Courtesy.
  • Despite growing old by the day, he never failed to provide for his family, always plowing in good time and planting crops to boost the family’s food basket. 
  • He says that despite being an experienced farmer, he has, in recent times, missed the correct timing for planting season, hence running into losses during harvesting.  
  • The dispatch of climate-resilient seeds and sorghum has been termed by environmentalists as a short-term measure to what is arguably a long-term food insecurity.

At least two decades back, the whistling of blackbirds and the chiffchaff would remind Ken Demba, now a 70-year-old man, of another morning to pick his hoe for the garden. 

A father of seven with no structured job to call him, he held farming with both hands, as birds woke him up every daybreak.  

Despite growing old by the day, he never failed to provide for his family, always plowing in good time and planting crops to boost the family’s food basket. 

When I caught up with him at Karabondi village in Rachuonyo North, he was a man of few words, reminding me that times have changed and life is lived in bits.

“My grandson, where are the weaverbirds and the blackbirds of the olden days? In the late 1990s, we could be listening to the chirping of weaverbirds and the whistling of the bluebirds. Just how did they disappear in our midst? 

During these seasons, every year, rivers and streams entertained large volumes of water, breaking their banks, and water was in plenty,” says Ken, not his real name.

My interview with Ken at least reminded me of the old days in primary school. As pupils, we would chase and trap grasshoppers in the school compound, and we had funny local names for them. 

This was one of the many reasons for loving school, as pupils from lower grades waited for the ten o’clock break to play hide and seek, others trailing butterflies and grasshoppers. 

Back at home, in the villages, we looked for nests where we placed noose traps, even as the babbles of the rivers proved the presence of the hospitality of the environment.

Ken explains that the absence of birds, butterflies, and even food in granaries is informed by the actions of communities, and it would take ages to restore. 

According to him, communities have become lazy and disinterested in farming due to environmental degradation and poor planting practices. 

He says that despite being an experienced farmer, he has, in recent times, missed the correct timing for planting season, hence running into losses during harvesting.  

He concludes that the ever-changing weather patterns are necessitated by the government’s inaction to make reliable and well-researched updates to the farmers.

But as Ken expressed his displeasure with unreliable information from government agencies, a few kilometers away, the governor of Homa Bay County was showering up for the launch of a great idea, intended to boost farming activities. 

Gladys Wanga, in partnership with TomorrowNow launched a Climate Information Center. 

The center, according to the governor, will collect and analyze climate data, including rainfall, temperature, soil moisture, lake conditions, wind, and extreme weather conditions. 

Gov. Wanga at the launch of the Climate Information Center in Homa Bay Town. PHOTO/Courtesy.

She expressed optimism that the center will aid all farmers in making informed farming decisions to boost food security and uplift their living standards.

While thanking the people of Homa Bay for giving her space to turn around the environment and climate condition of the county, she revealed that Homa Bay County was today among the first five counties in climate change mitigation strategies and efforts, calling out all leaders to encourage the use of local language during climate change discussions and meetings.

“This information will be distributed to farmers, fishermen, and the public, aiding in decision-making for farming and informing county policy making. 

It will also serve as a call center for disaster risk management,” Governor Wanga announced in Homa Bay Town during the launch.

Early this week, the governor flagged off 9350kg of climate-resilient sorghum seeds and other supplies to assist families and farmers in drought-stricken areas of Ndhiwa, Suba South, and Suba North in Homa Bay County. 

Wanga, in her address, said the move aims to alleviate the impact of drought in eleven wards that were severely affected, including Ruma- Kaksingri, Kaksingri West, Lambwe, Gembe, Kanyadoto, Kosewe, Gwasi North, Kwabwai, South Kabuoch, Kanyikela and Gwasi South.

However, the dispatch of climate-resilient seeds and sorghum has been termed by environmentalists as a short-term measure to what is arguably a long-term food insecurity. 

At a global webinar dubbed “Rising beyond climate change,” which sought to understand the role of communities in mitigation and adaptation, speakers underscored the need for carrying out a detailed analysis of climate risk to make climate information relevant to communities and specific users.

The online meeting organized by Zero Carbon Africa (ZCA), a continental organization keen on achieving net zero emissions, brought speakers on board, including environment experts, scientists, and farmers. 

The speakers laid bare the effects of climate change on biodiversity, calling out the participants to reverse the climate change trend and shift to climate-friendly gardening, like fruit tree planting, to reduce extreme heat in cities.  

James Samo, an agronomist attached to the Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya, says that changing temperatures, insufficient water supply, ozone layer interference, and nutrient constraints affect crop yields and birds’ presence. 

He explains that extreme temperatures and precipitation can prevent crops from growing and force birds into extinction. 

He shocked the audience when he revealed that the birds that colored the sky, the sweet-smelling leaves that raided our nostrils, and the indigenous crops that filled the granaries are today a thing of the past.

“Extreme conditions, especially drought and floods, can harm crops and reduce yields. 

Shockingly, pests, weeds, and fungi thrive under warmer temperatures, increased carbon dioxide levels, and wetter climates. 

Climate change increases the prevalence of diseases and parasites that attack crops and animals. 

The actions of human beings have frustrated plant life, killed animal life, and enhanced climate change dilemma,” he says.

While addressing the audience during the webinar, Martin Mulenga, the CEO of Green Cosmos, Zambia, said the future of Africa was in the hands of Africans since the current climate actions needed immediate prevention measures. 

He called out climate change actors to champion fruit tree farming to boost the food basket and mitigate environmental degradation. 

Martin Mulenga, CEO Green Cosmos. He says climate actors continue to act in isolation, hence making their efforts meaningless and useless. PHOTO/Courtesy.

According to Mulenga, climate actors continue to act in isolation, making their climate change mitigation efforts meaningless and useless.

“There is need to harmonize environmental laws across the continent so that what applies in West Africa applies in all other regions. 

The low community environmental advocacy is responsible for the drought and starvation, and our people will continue suffering, not because Africa is dry but because Africans are ignorant about the environment. 

The level of assumption is way too high, and the governments have to fix this mess before it turns messy,” he warns.

Mulenga stressed that the time had come for employers to open environmental desks in every department so that workers interact with the basics of climate change mitigation programs. 

He pointed out that climate change is already exposing the world to flooding, drought, the emergence of new diseases, and extreme heat moments. 

He called out scientists to simplify the complex terminologies used in climate change mitigation campaigns so that the campaign is realized.

The Luanshya-born environmental activist, who began his green campaign at 23, says fighting for environmental conservation needs commitment and dedication. 

Mulenga leads members of his organization in waste collection. PHOTO/Courtesy.

He called on the participants to confront environmental degradation activities boldly so that workshops get meaning. 

He ridiculed the African governments for their inaction in managing waste, which has literally killed marine life. 

Mulenga wondered what else the African governments would do better when even children know ‘Water is Life’.

Nancy Oloo, the coordinator of Zero Carbon Africa- Kenya Chapter, reminded participants to amplify the campaign against fossil fuel energy and embrace the use of clean energy such as the use of solar power, biogas, hydrogen fuel cells and wind power. 

According to Nancy, who is a trainer at RIAT, it was time Africans stopped cutting trees for fuel, terming the habit misplaced and a perfect journey to climate change.

The call at the webinar comes at a time when a conference convened by PACJA in Abuja, Nigeria, has reminded authorities to involve young minds and women in environmental conservation. 

Eliane Ubalijoro, CEO of CIFOR-ICRAF, stated the involvement of young minds is not just a choice but a strategic imperative. 

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According to her, they bring fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and unwavering enthusiasm that are essential for driving progress in agriculture.

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Mr. Misori holds a Bachelor's degree in Education Arts, English and English literature from Mount Kenya University. He is the author of the book ''Village Under Siege'', a book reviewer, and a science journalist passionate about environment, health, climate change, education and agriculture. His email address is



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