Climate change combined with rapid population increases, economic growth and land subsidence could lead to a more than 9-fold increase in the national risk of floods in upcoming towns in the 47 counties between now and realization of the Vision 2030.
Among the reform agendas identified to set the Kenyan Economy on a strong recovery path as outlined in the Medium Term Plan and Vision 2030 are regional stability and security and favourable weather conditions. These two agendas are inseparable and vital on achieving the others yet could be easily overlooked at the moment affecting long term plans. Kenyan economy largely depends on agriculture which makes up 29% for GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which in turn is largely driven by favourable weather conditions which in turn stabilizes the country and its security.
Climate change knows no boundaries and Kenya has been one of the countries feeling the impacts in rural and urban areas.
We cannot control the amount of rainfall that falls, or the intensity of temperature, and sometimes there are natural disasters that come on without any man-made trigger. However, the impacts of these disasters on the population are aggravated by human activities multiplying the effects and further deteriorating the environment. Developing countries especially Africa are adversely affected and least able to cope with the anticipated shocks to their social, economic and natural systems. Disasters of only small magnitudes cause loss of lives and millions worth of property. Reactive approach often adapted by our African countries to disasters is costly, unsustainable and fails to address the root causes of people`s vulnerability plunging the respective governments concerned into a vicious cycle and immense suffering to the populations.
A fair example in Kenya is on one flooding incident. During the prime news of Citizen TV aired on 16th May 2012, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said, “ the government will need close to 86 billion shillings to repair the infrastructure damaged by the recent floods (April to May 2012). More than 155 billion shillings will be needed for the country to reconstruct and fully recover from recent disasters.” A low income country as Kenya is not able to sustain such a high budget for separate incidences of natural disasters. However, with proper planning and long term forecasts, such a budget can be lowered by ensuring that systems are put in place to reduce the impacts of these natural disasters. Rigorous community involvement is a key component in achievement of any of these measures.
It is clear that links between climate change and sustainable development are strong and cannot be avoidable. Fight against poverty is a top priority on Kenya’s development policy agenda and the government’s commitment to the realization of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), elimination of hunger and poverty, and achievement of inclusive and equitable growth is contained in various policy documents such as the Medium Term Plan and Vision 2030.
Kenya is undergoing a growth transition in agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, industry and manufacturing, energy, tourism and financial services thus sustainable development as early as the foundation stages cannot be ignored. While the labour force increases, the urban centres are expanding while the government increases infrastructure to support the growth. However, within no time, when sustainable development is not factored in at this early stages, we shall have to grapple with immeasurable negative impacts of climate change which can haul down a whole economy. A disaster-emergency condition intervention generates extensive damage and destruction to life and property leading to extensive social and physical disruption which overwhelms the resources of affected communities.
A country ideal growing economy should factor in sustainable development in all its sectors so that it shall have a natural environment in future that can sustain its growth and at the same time provide its services without any repercussions. However, a failing economy does not consider its tree cover or water sources and consumes all its natural resources polluting all its natural services and have no future amidst all technology. However, Kenya is not yet depleted of its natural resources; we are at a point where we can achieve rapid economic growth as well as proper environment conservation.