Kenya to bear another painful sting of climate change in 2022

A farmer inspecting his drying maize crops due to lack of sufficient rainfall. Climate change in Kenya has been so quick and hurting, constantly calling for a quicker action. PHOTO/Wesley Langat.

The sharp edges of climate change have continued to bruise my country Kenya.

Every part of the East African country is now feeling the pains of the switching climatic conditions.

It is happening, oblivious of the many ongoing talks to save the planet.

Seemingly, actions should urgently override the stretched-out negotiations for the better.

The agricultural landscape is taking a new dimension as the situation continues to ravage the sector and typically hurt the economy all the more.

Reports from various agencies and task-force have labored to paint the image and apply multiple, well-thought-out assumptions of what is cooking behind the climatic scenes.

They have projected relevant data on what is to be expected.

It’s all worrying and calls for everyone to drop the game and act to stop the phenomenon.

The urgency begs the words of Mark Ruffalo, an actor and environmentalist: “Climate change is the greatest threat to our existence in our short history on this planet.

Nobody’s going to buy their way out of its effects.”

How climate change has ravaged our country

Shifting temperatures and hard-to-predict rainfall patterns have affected the agricultural sector in Kenya.

Cognizant of the fact that agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, this has shaken the roots of the economic sector.

Food inadequacy, water insufficiency, unceasing economic skirmishes and deteriorating health conditions (among people and livestock) are presently no news to anyone.

Food insecurity: A 2022 report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) indicates that Kenya witnessed a significantly low harvest due to the late-onset, poor temporal distribution, and cumulatively below-average October-December rainfall.

Tea, wheat, rice and cereals production is getting lower each day.

Lower production due to lower rainfall has been the major challenge so far.

Further analysis of the Annual Short Rains Assessment report by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group’s estimated that 3.1 million people (20% of the population in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) region were classified in the Integrated food security Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 3 (Crisis) or above acute food insecurity in February 2022.

Rain shortage, resource-based conflicts and rising costs of inputs were tagged as the causes.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, maize production in 2020 was by far lower and below the previous five-year average production.

Researchers have projected deteriorating conditions unless the heavens pour down above-average rains and forage and water become sufficiently available.

Water scarcity: Currently, pastoral communities are in anguish due to a lack of water for domestic use and livestock.

As of December 2021, the livestock trekking distances had reached 48-79% above average, seeking water and pasture.

Most areas in Kenya depend on water from shallow wells, sand dams and other water catchment sources.

With the previous rains recharging such open water sources by just slightly above 10%, such areas currently lack sufficient water for domestic use and livestock.

Such constraints often brew conflicts among people as they fight for the few available resources.

Unabated economic struggles: According to the National Climate Change Action Plan 2018-2022, “Climate change has significant adverse effects on the Kenyan economy.

The economic cost of floods and droughts is estimated to create a long-term fiscal liability equivalent to 2%-2.8% of GDP each year.”

Particularly, the estimated costs of floods are almost 5.5% of Kenya’s GDP every seven years, while droughts account for 8% of GDP every five years.”

In Kenya today, tea farmers are bearing the brunt of lower tea produce and the tea market is becoming unstable.

The commodity prices, which is one of Kenya’s top foreign currency earners, are slowly but steadily rising.

Staple food prices have been shooting high both by day and by night.

Reports indicate that in February 2022, maize prices were 8-28% above the five-year average, with bean selling at an 11-35% cost higher above the five-year average.

Bread, milk, fruits and all foodstuffs are now luxurious in cost, unaffordable to the masses and limiting households’ purchasing power.

Below-average production, closely tied to climate change impacts, is to blame.

In all spheres, the hoi polloi is struggling and every day proves more challenging and more painful than the previous.

Effects on health: Longer trekking distances on domestic animals means lower milk production and uneven availability of the commodity.

An infographic showing the projected Acute Food Insecurity and Malnutrition in Kenya. A quicker and more pragmatic action has to be takenby the government to save lives. Credit/IPC Kenya.

Higher foodstuff costs translate to unhealthy diets and, sometimes, unavailability of meals.

These two mean malnutrition to both children, pregnant and also lactating mothers.

A February-June 2022 IPC Acute Malnutrition (IPCAMN) analysis released in March estimated that 755 000 children aged between 6 and 59 months were acutely malnourished.

This is a 16% rise from the 653 000 cases as of August 2021.

One hundred three thousand pregnant and lactating mothers are in the pangs of acute malnourishment and require treatment.

“The main driver of acute malnutrition is the worsening food insecurity situation, with reduced milk production and consumption across counties, low food stocks and unfavorable terms of trade reported.

This was due to the cumulative effects of three failed rainfall seasons,” in part, the IPC MN report reads.


IPCAMN and FEWS NET work hand in hand to collect data, give evidence-based early warning on different overhanging calamities and offer governments suitable measures to ward off such possible disasters.

Among other recommendations, the IPCAMN report urges the government and all concerned entities to:

Consider providing timely, coordinated multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance to combat the accelerated food insecurity and malnutrition in the ASAL counties’ affected areas.

“Promote rainwater harvesting and technology, drilling of boreholes, construction of elevated steel storage tanks, building water kiosks, drilling of boreholes, and installing prepaid water meters for communal usage.

Provide water tanks and promote water harvesting in schools.”

It also calls upon different helping hands to revive and step up school meals programs, construct food storage facilities and ease cash transfer to schools to capacitate them to purchase foodstuffs for the learners.

In a nutshell, the upshots of climate change are not to be far-fetched.

They are within us, and denying it would be self-delusion.

It’s hurting all around. Our planet is bleeding!

However, we cannot stop seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and afford to throw our hands up in despair.

It’s high time we dropped the games and exhorted anyone ignorantly contributing to climate change to think twice and make amends.

This is the only chance we have. We must own the fight and fight it to the last fist, for ourselves and for our future generations.

This is because, as in the words of Leonardo Di Caprio, an actor and environmentalist, “Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”

What are you doing to save the environment and avert the already destructive calamity?

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Mr. Makau holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics, Media & Communication from Moi University, Kenya. He is a Columnist and Editor with Scholar Media Africa, with a keen interest in Education, Health, Climate Change, and Literature.


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