By Ann Wambui
“Hii jua ni kama imeongezwa kuni.” A common Swahili phrase to mean the heat from the sun is too much. Global warming is the gradual rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and its oceans, which is believed to be permanently changing the Earth’s climate. Weather in Kenya has drastically changed over the past 5 years or so. The country was hit by bad drought in the years 2014-2019. In 2019, Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui warned Kenyans to brace themselves for a biting drought until April.
Across the globe, weather patterns have changed such that we have seen wildfires in Chicago, heat waves and rainfall above average citing Townsville, Australia receiving one year’s rainfall in a span of nine days, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Temperatures in the UK dropped the lowest levels in seven years with mercury dipping to -14.4 degrees Celsius in Scotland, according to The Week.
Children are often the most affected when things go south in any matter thus thousands had reasons to match on the streets of United Kingdom calling out their leaders to be responsible and take drastic measures to ensure they live in better environments.
Thousands of British school learners walked out of school to take part in peaceful protest through the global campaign aiming for a call of action over climate change in the region. Since August 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden has been raising awareness of climate issues at the Swedish parliament with the hope to get media attention for them to write and do investigations on it, as well as Parliamentarians to rise up.
Students from all over the area appreciated the fact that young people turned out in great numbers and refuse to be silenced for raising concerns over neglect for climate whereas they would suffer more in the years to come as well as the generations to come after them.
The protests have attracted support in neighboring countries and adults feel it is time for leaders to take action, as former UN climate chief backed up the campaign saying it was “time to heed the deeply moving voice of youth.”
No protests in Kenya but people as young as 8-year-old Ellyanne Wanjiku have taken upon themselves to start tree planting campaigns countrywide. Wanjiku who follows in the late Professor Wangari Maathai’s footsteps have so far planted over 450 trees by herself, school friends and team work with other schools including Kawangware Primary. The young environmentalist works closely with her mother Dorothy Githae to provide seedlings in the targeted 56 schools in Nairobi, so as to encourage kids and teachers to nurture the trees to maturity.
According to Relief Web, in 2017 The Horn of Africa experienced one of the worst hunger crises in the recent times because of the prolonged drought periods. 23 out of 47 counties were largely affected as the number of food insecure people doubled from 1.3 million to about 2.7 million, among the over 350,000 children and breastfeeding mothers were acutely malnourished.
According to a 2018 report by UNICEF, drought of 2017 persisted into 2018 leaving about 500,000 without access to water. It is duly noted that famine affects children in vast ways and interferes with their daily routine which leads to a decline in school attendance, participation and increase in the number of drop-out rates.
Tree planting is crucial in Kenya to achieve the 15% forest cover by 2022 project initiated by CS Environment Keriako Tobiko in March 2018 who hopes that at least a million trees will be planted annually.
18-year-old Lily Moimet Tanui has been planted over 2,000 trees and 3,000 seedlings with the hope to keep Maathai’s dream of planting trees and environment conservation lives on. “I want to follow the footsteps of Professor Wangari Maathai by educating people on the importance of planting trees and ensure that everyone participates in environment conversation. We want to ensure that our country has 10% forest cover.”
Lack of access to water and food leads to numerous deaths of children, adults and livestock. Crops spoil and die in the farms due to lack of water as a result of deforestation. When the rains come, some counties especially in the arid and semi-arid areas experience floods carrying away people, houses and cause huge destructions. Water storage measures should be enhanced and implemented before tragedy strikes and things are out of control. We should not be having homesteads uprooted because of poor water infrastructures.
Speaking during a water and sanitation county executive committee on January 2019 in Nyahururu, Laikipia County, CS Chelungui said government of Kenya has set aside Sh10 billion to expand water, sanitation and sewerage coverage countrywide. My concern now is if the funds have been released to serve the intended purpose and will the citizens feel the impact.
Children should not have to miss school because there is someone neglecting his/her duty. Taxpayers monies needs to be put to good use through building water conservation infrastructures, safe and strong bridges for students to cross, and encouraging children and families to plant trees so as to attract frequent rainfall.
Cover photo; courtesy of NewsHub
Sources; The Guardian
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