Quite often as happens in many spheres new phenomenon brings about controversies. May it be cultural, technological, political, and economic and so on. Right now there is plenty of debate on climate change. The change in global weather patterns has attracted diverse opinions and plenty of differing discourse is available. But what is not deniable is the weather patterns have been changing in adverse mode.
If one keenly looks at Kenya’s mainly rain fed agriculture one can discern that the changes in weather over the years have had adverse effects in production. Gone are the days when it was almost perfectly predictable that the long rains in the country would fall starting around 15th March and subsiding in middle of the month of May. It was also predictable the short rains would fall starting around 15th October and subside in December. It was also most predictable that July would be an extreme cold month and January, February, August and September would be quite hot. Previously the frequency of droughts was not that much. Nowadays drought has become too common and rains hardly enough in most parts of the countries. Some of the areas that previously were food secure and largely depended on rain are no longer the case. Nowadays, you cannot be sure whether rains will fall in adequate proportions in most parts of the country and predictably drought has become more problematic and predictably high in frequency. This seems to be a trend to the future and unless the tide change their problems for a developing country like Kenya can magnify. When we have a growing population that we should not just provide adequate employment and better living conditions for, we are also forced to think food. Well, any decent country has to feed her population but food should be the easier part as with better economic dispensation this would be the least of worry. But unfortunately this is not the case. Food is part of the bigger problems we have to tackle as a country and partly thanks to climate change problems.
Human activities have largely contributed to some of these problems. If you move around the country most of the previously medium sized rivers are no longer existent or simply too small. Destruction of forests, intense farming , population explosion in farming zones and thus a lot of settlements and clearance of woodlands whilst tapping these waters has contributed to all this. Our slum prone towns and cities have been unable to offer alternative means of living largely due to unemployment engulfing the country. Without proper industrialization and tapping into new economy the problem can only grow worse. Kenya has an unemployment crisis to deal with. Whilst it is well known that industrialization and keen targeting of some key sectors like manufacturing and tourism can provide some reprieve to unemployment problem there is no deep solutions in place to handle climate change.
On top of contributors to climate change include pollution which has become a major problem not only in Kenya but on a global scale. This alone is contributing to a lot of problems in health and on weather hence climate change. Industrialization and transport systems have come up with their own share of problems affecting the weather through pollution. Unplanned urbanization largely due to poverty and political convenience is part of the urban pollution issues third world countries have to handle. Part of the mitigation on this is the global campaign on renewable energy as even the developed world is not facing the problem of climate change nor would they have been spared the mess in the first place. Moreover the development itself is part of the contributors to pollution. Poverty in third world make these countries more vulnerable whether they contribute to climate change in a big way or not. Renewable energy that utilizes cleaner sources of fuel and utilizing some of the materials that could otherwise be waste and contribution to pollution and thus climate change that is part of the numerous problems afflicting the world today and in future is part of a sober and cleaner way to solve these global problems. We have no choice than adopt greener energy in our daily use may it be in cars, domestic appliances or in industries. The world energy needs will keep rising. The use of non-green sources would inevitably lead to more problems in a global scale.
So do we have a solution? Can we be part of the solution? Certainly yes. The adoption of renewable energy solution is inevitable if we have to make the world more conducive for health, food and better living. We all have a part to play.
Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda
The Writer is a Researcher, Consultant, Chairman Consumer Downtown Association and also represents Several International Organisations in Renewable Energy Sector.