Pg31) Kahindi Charo, a bird guide at Mida Creek. (Credit_ Evelyn Makena)

Why Kenya`s Mida Creek is a haven for migratory birds

By Evelyn Makena I evelynmakena@gmail.com

Carmine bee eaters at Mida Creek in Watamu, Kilifi County.

Between September and April every year, thousands of birds fly through the skies, traversing countries and continents before landing in Mida Creek, a tidal inlet stretching from the Indian Ocean along the Kenyan Coast.

Over 70 aquatic bird species make long journeys from their summer breeding sites in Europe and Eurasia in search of wintering grounds in Mida.

The creek surrounded by thickets of mangrove forest and lined with palms is a paradise for migratory birds that come in search of food and to escape unbearable cold of Northern countries. Migratory birds depend on the creek that offers ideal temporary habitat to roost, and feed for their survival.

The 32 square kilometre creek in Watamu, Kilifi County, has important mangrove forests with a high diversity of crustaceans and fish species, which provide nourishment to the birds. Diverse habitats of mud and sand flats and open shallow waters within the saline expanse of the creek are rich in biodiversity to sustain birds and marine life.

“The mud is like chocolate for birds. There are other places around Africa that birds can use as wintering grounds, but Mida is an exception because of the readily available food,” says Kibwana Ali Bakari, a local bird conservationist.

Some of the migratory bird species that can easily be seen at Mida Creek include mangrove kingfisher, spotted ground thrush, osprey, terek sandpiper, saunder`s tern, robin chats, swallows, bee eaters and shrikes. Mida is also a significant feeding area for greater flamingo, dimorphic egrets, and lesser crested tern.

The presence of migratory birds is an indicator of the condition of migratory sites. Birds stay in places where there is abundant food and minimum distraction.

According to Kibwana, migratory birds also benefit the ecosystem through pest control, pollination of plants, are food sources for other wildlife and source of pride for local communities.

The birds also have a recreational value. They add aesthetic beauty to the environment, bringing in more tourists. Every year, many tourists are drawn to Watamu to visit the pristine beaches and the coastal forest of Arabuko Sokoke.

The tranquility of mangrove forests that surround Mida Creek and the thriving bird life is also an attraction to tourists. Kibwana notes that one bird, the crab plover, is a major attraction to many tourists.

 

“The striking shorebird, with white and black plumage and a unique straight beak, draws many tourists here,” he says. The bird that migrates from Oman and nests in Somalia feeds on crabs that are readily available at the creek.

Apart from aquatic migrants, there are terrestrial birds that migrate through the adjacent Arabuko Sokoke Forest. Other bird species like secretary ibises, yellow bee storks and three banded plovers, live and breed at the creek.

Mida Creek is recognised as an Important Bird Area and together with Arabuko Sokoke Forest form UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

But as we marked World Migratory Bird Day on October 8, experts warned that migratory bird species are in sharp decline. According to the International Union for Conservation on Nature Red List, one in every eight bird species is threatened, including some migratory bird species such as European Turtle Dove and Atlantic Puffin.

Among the threats facing migratory birds and contributing to their decline is human destruction of habitats. Kahindi Charo Katana, a local bird guide, notes that the threats include human encroachment of wildlife habitats, deforestation, effects of climate change and invasive species.

Along the Indian Ocean, for instance, the growing numbers of Indian house crow, which is an invasive species, has led to a decrease in some smaller indigenous bird species.

“The bird is a scavenger and feeds literally on anything, including the eggs of other bird species, thus threatening their survival,” says Kahindi. The crows are not indigenous to East Africa but were introduced by scientists a century ago to control rubbish. Now, their numbers have exploded, threatening the survival of other bird species.

Destruction of key habitats also threatens the population of migratory birds. Due to years of human encroachment, Arabuko Sokoke Forest is currently the only largest remaining fragment of the East African Coastal Forest that stretches from Mozambique to Somalia. Several migratory terrestrial birds still rely on the forest stretch as a migratory route while heading to Mida in search of food.

Deforestation around the creek had in the past also threatened the bird populations but in recent years the community has put efforts to restore critical mangrove forests, attracting more birds.

 

 

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Drought: Kenya reports wildlife deaths in parks

By Agatha Ngotho I angotho@gmail.com

Photo caption: A giraffe at a national park in Kenya. A new report says that drought has led to deaths of more than 1000 wildlife in the country. Photo by Joseph Kipsang.

As the world descends on the tourist city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from tomorrow to discuss global climate change crisis, Kenya, will still be reeling from the impact of droughts on its wildlife with numerous deaths reported in the country.

The meeting, dubbed the Conference of Parties (COP) 27 opens on November 6th November 2022 with 40,000 people attending.

According to the World Economic Forum, climate change is causing devastation to the continent's water bodies, impacting food security, threatening ecosystems and impeding socio-economic development.

Kenya has not been spared by the devastating drought which has seen 4.3 million people in need of urgent food aid and the death of more than 1,000 wildlife. Wildlife deaths

The current drought in Kenya, say authorities, has killed 205 elephants, 430 zebras, 51 buffalos and 12 giraffes.

According to Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza 14 different species of wildlife have been affected between February and October 2022 by the drought.

She said the drought has resulted in the deaths of 205 deaths, elephants, 512 wildebeest, 381 common zebras, 205 elephants, 49 grevy’s zebras, 51 buffalos and giraffe (8 Reticulated and 4 Maasai zebras).

The CS spoke on 4 th November 2022 during the launch of a report on the impacts of the current drought on wildlife in Kenya done by the Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI).

Malonza said the most affected areas include Amboseli, Tsavo and Laikipia-Samburu ecosystems.

“Elephants in Amboseli and Laikipia-Samburu regions are worst affected by the drought as the ecosystems have recorded more than 70 elephant deaths. The Amboseli ecosystem has lost 510 wildebeests, 358 common zebras, 76 elephants, and 19 buffalos among other species,” she said.

On November 1, President William Ruto announced that the Government will set aside Sh200 million to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to support interventions geared towards cushioning wildlife from famine.

The CS explained that rainfall in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya failed completely during the October–December 2021 and March–May 2022 rainy seasons.

This resulted to the current drought being experienced in Southern, Eastern and Northern Kenya.

“The drought has caused mortality of wildlife, mostly herbivore species. The mortalities have arisen because of depletion of food resources as well as water shortages,” said Malonza.

The report indicated that the grevy’s zebra population, which is restricted to the Lakipia- Samburu landscapes has so far lost 49 grevy’s zebra even with the intervention of a feeding
programme.

The programme is currently ongoing in areas of Buffalo Springs and Samburu National Reserves through the Grevy’s Zebra Trust. It is providing supplement feeding to over 500 individuals daily with buffalo and oryx also benefiting from the feeds.

The Trust has reported 49 deaths related to drought out of the 90 deaths so far recorded.

The most affected areas within the Grevy’s zebra’s range are Isiolo County and Eastern parts of Samburu County, especially the Wamba Area.

The report further pointed out that the rhino population remains not seriously affected by the drought but one rhino aged about 2 years died in Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, Tsavo West
National Park.


“The drought continues to worsen as days’ pass as evidenced by the upwards trend of wildlife mortality between February and October 2022. The continued worsening of the drought condition could affect more rhinos in overstocked rhino sanctuaries including Ngulia
Rhino Sanctuary, Tsavo West National Park among others,” the report noted.

It also indicated that the Southern Conservation Area particularly Amboseli ecosystem is the most affected followed by the Laikipia-Samburu landscape from the months of February
through to October.


The Wildlife Research and Training Institute report further showed that the drought has negatively impacted on the herbivore populations and particularly wildebeest and zebra. It
has claimed more than 500 and 380 wildebeest and common zebra respectively in the Amboseli Ecosystem.

“Most of the affected wild animal species are grazers. Elephants were as well affected by the drought due to reduced forage and mostly to young elephants who may not reach out to
above 2-meter vegetation biomass,” the report stated.
The Laikipia-Samburu and Amboseli ecosystems are worst hit having recorded more than 70 elephants’ deaths each followed by 54 deaths in Tsavo East, West and Ranches.


Amboseli ecosystem, which hosts over 1900 elephants has so far lost 76 elephants to the drought of which 45 were juveniles dying of malnutrition since the mothers could not produce enough milk. In Tsavo, four elephant calves were preyed by lions as their mothers
were too weak to protect them.


In the report, the wildlife research outfit called for urgent and immediate provision of water as well as salt licks in the most affected ecosystems of Amboseli, Tsavo and Laikipia- Samburu.
It also recommended for the enhancement of provision of hay to Grevy’s zebra in northern Kenya over the next two months to cover a wider area.

It called for support to undertake well-structured monitoring of wildlife mortality in all protected areas and key ecosystems. This, they noted, will help to better understand the effects of the drought and recommend future and timely appropriate management action.


It called for urgent aerial census of wildlife in Amboseli ecosystem before the next rainy season to determine and evaluate the impact of the current drought on wildlife.

“The National Treasury should allocate funds to support the next National Wildlife Census in 2024 to establish the impact of the current drought on wildlife populations in all the affected ecosystems. This is in addition to provision of funding to support destocking of Ngulia Rhino
Sanctuary (Tsavo West National Park) and prevent any eminent drought related mortality of black rhino in the sanctuary,” said the report.

Big Ship Organisation Project Officer Evelyn Omondi. She says there is a symbiotic relationship between the bees, beekeepers and the mangrove forest. (Credit_ Captain Nyota)

Where farmers use bees to earn a living and keep mangrove loggers at bay

By Ruth Keah

Juma Mnyika checks his beehive at Tudor Creek in Mombasa County. (Credit_ Captain Nyota)

Growing up, Juma Mnyika loved watching monkeys jump up and down mangrove trees in his Ganahola village at the coastal Kenya’s Mombasa County.

However, these beautiful sceneries are only memories now for the 42-year-old, since most of the mangrove forest has been destroyed .“The monkeys ran away due to the mangrove forest destruction. Now we only see one monkey in a month, who comes even into our homestead to look for food,”
says Mnyika.

Mangroves are among the most productive marine ecosystems on earth, providing a unique habitat for many animal species. They provide habitats for birds, breeding grounds for many fish species as well as protection against storms, floods and erosion. Mangrove forests also act as important carbon sinks because they have higher amount of biomass compared to terrestrial tropical forest.

But mangroves have been in danger of human destruction and their global distributions have been on the decline.

Tudor creek in Mombasa has lost 80 per cent of its mangroves over the past 20 years.

However, Mnyika and his fellow bee farmers are now doing their best to restore and protect the endangered trees.

In the project dubbed ‘Asali Mkoko’, the over 100 farmers along the Tudor creek not only earn a living by harvesting honey from the beehives, but also use the bees as security for the mangrove forest.

“We started planting the mangroves, but noticed that people were still destroying them, so we deiced to install beehives along the Tudor creek to act as 24-hour security,” says Mnyika.
“The beehives have been very effective because when one decides to cut down a mangrove tree, the bees attack him/her.”

He says since they started the project in 2010, and have so far seen a big difference. He says almost 90 per cent of mangrove destruction has stopped, and some of the birds, crabs, prawns and fish that had disappeared are now coming back.

Mnyika owns 12 beehives. He says they normally check on the hives at least once or twice in one and a half months and harvest the honey every four months. He says one hive can produce up to 20kg of honey in a good season and eight kilos in a bad season. “Since I left formal employment, I have found a livelihood in the mangrove forest.

We sell one kilo of honey at Sh1,200,” he says. Mnyika says they have a ready market for the honey. A non-governmental organisation called Big Ship, which they have been working with, buys from them immediately they harvest the honey. However, such community projects are not without challenges. Mnyika says during dry seasons it is hard for the bees to find the right flowers to produce honey, and this reduces their harvest.

“Due to the prolonged dry season, this year I have only harvested honey once, and I only got 10kg,” he says. Monitored wildlife populations – mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish – have seen a devastating 69 per cent drop on average since 1970, according to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Living Planet Report (LPR) 2022. The report warns governments,  businesses and the public to take transformative action to
reverse the destruction of biodiversity.

Around the world, the report indicates that the main drivers of wildlife population decline are habitat degradation and loss, exploitation, introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change and diseases.

World leaders are due to meet at the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) this December for a once-in-a-decade opportunity to course-correct for the sake of people and the planet. WWF is advocating for leaders to commit to a ‘Paris-style’ agreement capable of reversing biodiversity loss to secure a nature-positive world by 2030.

“The LPR report makes it clear that delivering a nature-positive future will not be possible without recognising and respecting the rights, governance, and conservation leadership of Indigenous Peoples and local communities around the
world,” says Alice Ruhweza, Africa Regional Director, WWF-International.


Evelyn Omondi from Big Ship Organisation, a community empowerment organisation that focuses on implementation of local solutions on restoring and protecting the environment, says they decided to partner with the community and some former loggers to set up a mangrove bee farming project to protect the
diminishing Tudor Creek mangrove forest.


“We train them on seedling establishment, bee keeping and monitoring of the beehives, and establish a market for the honey,” she says.


Ms Omondi says they decided to bring together the former loggers because to change their mindset against logging and teach them the importance of conserving mangroves.


She says so far, they have engaged more than 200 former loggers in the beekeeping project. The over 500 beehives are set up at various strategic points along the forest.


She says they normally sell seedlings at Ksh100 each. From the sales they buy beehives and give to farmers they have recruited. The farmers then plant the seedlings along the creek.


Their long-term plan is to make sure that each community member in the areas they cover can get at least 10 beehives.


According to Ms Omondi, the mangrove has so many benefits in the ecosystem.

She said there is a symbiotic relationship between the bees, the beekeepers, and the mangrove forest. The bees feed on the mangrove flowers, making highly desirable honey free from commercial additives.


One of the challenges Ms Omondi says they encounter is that most farmers have no enough knowledge in bee keeping, hence they spend more time and resources on training them. She says despite the challenges, they have now restored 67 hecaters of mangroves along the Tudor Creek.

As almost 200 nations are expected to gather in Egypt’s resort town of Sharm el- Sheikh from November 6-18 for COP27, Ms Omondi called on leaders to look into strategies to improve such community initiatives to mitigate climate change.


“The COP27 meeting is very important because people will get to know how community initiatives have improved matters of climate change and the need to support them,” she says.


She estimates that mangroves in Kenya store between 600 and 1,500 tonnes of carbon per hectare. This means the 3,371 hectares of mangroves in Mombasa County store an average of 3.94 million tonnes of carbon.

A man undergoes HIV testing. [Stephen Nzioka, Standard]

Health ministry sued over review of HIV and malaria tests algorithm

A man undergoes HIV testing. [Stephen Nzioka, Standard]

A vicious court battle over the review of testing sequence of HIV has emerged with the Ministry of Health being accused of failing to involve stakeholders and procuring kits that have lower sensitivity.

Joseph Omwando in his case filed before the High Court claims that the ministry wants to overhaul the current HIV/Aids algorithm under the pretext of following World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations but has failed to follow to the letter the required processes.

In his case filed by lawyer Esther Odumbe, Omwando claims that the ministry is rushing through to review the algorithm for commercial interests and not public interests.

He claims that the Health Ministry is also plotting to reduce the quality of malaria testing kits by lowering the Panel Detection Score (PDS) for the kits to be used in the country from 90 per cent to 80 per cent to accommodate manufacturers whose products are less than 90 per cent.

“The whole review process is unconstitutional due to the fact that the public participation, involvement of key shareholders and sensitisation in the collection of samples was not collected,” claims Omwando.

Kenya’s HIV testing program is currently being conducted using a kit known as Determine HIV as the first-line screening kit.

According to the petitioner, the WHO recommended to its members to introduce a third kit into their national HIV testing algorithms. “This would negate the need to have samples sent to a laboratory and would provide a swift and accurate results on the condition of the person being tested,” he says, adding that the ministry instead went ahead to review the current testing algorithm.

“The defendants (Ministry of Health) opted to change the national HIV testing strategy and algorithm which requires developing a plan and identifying the optimal time for transition while ensuring all the necessary resources are in place.

“This change is being done without much preparedness and intends to introduce inferior third generation tests into the National HIV algorithm.”

According to him, other countries have already moved to fourth-generation tests. He states that what Kenya wants to move to is ‘an old’ technology.

This is a second court case casting doubts on Kenya’s HIV and Aids test results.

Last year, two women sued two government institutions after they were diagnosed and treated for HIV while they were negative.

 

The two women named AWM and EM sued Thika Level Five Hospital and Msambweni County Referral Hospital claiming they were misdiagnosed and treated for a disease they did not have.

According to court documents, on July 20, 2016, EM visited Diani Health Center for a routine antenatal visit and she was tested alongside other expectant mothers.

She says a nurse did the test and the result was that she was HIV positive. The nurse allegedly requested that she bring her spouse and their one-year-old child for testing. Their test results were negative but another staff did them.

She claimed that the nurse who tested her was actually a counsellor by training and who had a two-week training certificate and without known medical laboratory training background.

“The hospital relied on the HIV test result given to me to administer antiviral therapy (ARV) to my one-year-old at the time. The ARV has permanently changed the life of my entire family in all aspects,” she claims.

According to her, being declared positive led to frustration and family fights, adding that Msambweni declined to admit her when she was to give birth on account of the alleged status.

She continued: “A HIV positive tag put on me was a result of a HIV misdiagnosis, had a big toll on my entire family due to suspicion, stigma, mistrust and regular domestic quarrels that made our lives as a family appear worthless.”

She claimed that when it was known that she did not have HIV, the hospital demanded that she returns all the medical records and medicine for destruction. She says this was meant to conceal the evidence.

Meanwhile, EWM said that she went to Thika with her husband of 22 years to get tested for HIV. She argues that the hospital staff took her blood for screening and after 30 minutes, a shocker came that she was positive while her husband was cleared. This was on March 2, 2018.

She narrated that the man gave her an assurance that he would support her only for him to disappear the following morning without a word.

According to her, she got a call 14 days later from the same hospital requiring her to visit the hospital for medication. “She threatened me that in the event that I did not start of ARVs, I would be arrested and charged for being positive and not on medication and may be forced to take my medication from cells,” she claims adding that at that time, she contemplated suicide.

“I tried mixing rat poison with iodine and yoghurt to take.”

On December 10, 2018, she went for a second test and which gave a contrary verdict. Amazed by turn of result, she did another test that confirmed she was negative.

The two also want the court to compel the ministry to review HIV testing algorithm and guidelines.

Mr Shadrack Kithure, the leader of a community based environmental group at Mporoko swamp in Maua. The swamp has been invaded by residents who do farming with the group sensitizing residents on the benefits of conserving it.

Meru wetland put under lock and key as drought ravages region

Mr Shadrack Kithure, the leader of a community based environmental group at Mporoko swamp in Maua. The swamp has been invaded by residents who do farming with the group sensitizing residents on the benefits of conserving it.

Igembe Central sub-county is one of the driest areas of Meru County and residents rely on rain for subsistence farming. But about 40km from the Meru-Maua road, we find a fenced-off oasis.

The Gakunku wetland is the source of the Bwathonaro river, which snakes through the Igembe region and Meru National Park, giving life to thousands of residents and wild animals before draining into the river Tana.

But five years ago this oasis with lush vegetation and a stark contrast to surrounding areas was threatened with extinction by human activity, with residents invading it and cultivating crops, especially arrow roots.

Alarmed that this would lead to the drying up of the river and threaten the lives of residents and animals, members of the Bwathonaro Water Resource Users Association (WRUA) fenced it off and planted thousands of trees.

“The situation was dire because during dry seasons, like now, there would be a scramble for the little water that came out of the well. Domestic animals would be brought here, residents fetched water from the well while others grew crops. It was chaotic,” said WRUA secretary Riungu Mutea.

Mr Riungu Mutea, the secretary of Bwathonaro Water Resource Users Association (WRUA) at Gakunku wetland explains how they conserved the water catchment area by fencing it off and putting it under lock and key.

With funding of Sh3 million from the Upper Tana Catchment Natural Resources Management Project, the community fenced off the 25-acre wetland, put it under lock and key and formed a committee that placed the area under 24-hour surveillance.

They also incorporated the revered Njuri Ncheke council of elders to help conserving wetlands.

“Since their word is final, we brought Njuri Ncheke elders on board so that they could assist us. They camped in the small forest and threatened residents with a curse should they encroach on the area or cut down trees there. It became a sacred ground and that is how we succeeded in protecting it,” Mr Mutea said.

Residents have also built an intake for five projects, with water serving over 400 households or 3,000 residents. They also ration water during dry seasons by releasing it to the park at intervals.

“Residents use water during the day, while at night we direct it to the park. This has reduced human-wildlife conflicts because animals don’t cross over to our farms,” said committee chairman Wilson Nduati.

 
A signboard at Gakunku wetland and catchment area for Bwathonaro River which was fenced off and put under lock and key to prevent degradation by residents.

The wetland is a relief from the ravaging effects of drought in the area that has seen crops dry up due to lack of rains. Several residents benefit from the water pumped from the well to their farms, where they irrigate their crops, including miraa trees.

Mr Simon Mumbere, the knowledge management and learning officer at the Upper Tana catchment project, said they focus on conservation and management of natural resources in Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Murang’a counties.

“We work with members of the community in the six counties and address practices including over-abstraction of water and pollution, which cause degradation of catchment areas, leading to adverse effects such as human-wildlife conflicts,” Mr Mumbere said.

But the Gakunku success story is not reflected in the entire region. In the Maili Tatu area, on the outskirts of Maua, is the Mporoko swamp, a 140-acre wetland that has been invaded by farmers.

Mr Shadrack Kithure, the coordinator of a community-based environmental organization, said they have partnered with other groups to sensitise members of the community on the importance of conserving the wetland.

“We planted 20,000 trees and incorporated elders, who are helping us to conserve the area. Once we plant the trees we hand them over to elders, who instill fear in residents by warning them against cutting down the trees, and it has worked,” Mr Kithure said.

He called on the county government to intervene by fencing off to protect it.

“People have also planted eucalyptus trees in parts of this wetland and this is posing a danger to the catchment area. The government should move in and criminalise this activity or there is the risk that this wetland will dry up,” he said.

 
photo by Joseph Kipsang

Lake Nakuru diversifies its tourism products

By Loise Macharia

photo by Joseph Kipsang

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has diversified its tourism products at the world-famous Lake Nakuru National Park to include boating services and conference tourism.

The park’s Senior Warden, Edward Karanja said the diversification was to complement its traditional activities which are game safaris, pick-nick sites, camping and bird watching.

He said conferencing was a popular product under business tourism which came with the upgrading of Nakuru to city status in December last year.

 

Addressing journalist at the at the 188 square kilometer park during a media café’ on biodiversity organized by Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (Mesha), Karanja said the park was still accessible despite most of the routes having been submerged by the swelling lake.

He said KWS spent millions of shillings to create new routes to complete the circuit around the beautiful lake that has almost doubled its size over the past 10 years when it was 44 square kilometers to its current size of 80 square kilometers.

“More than 24 kilometers road network have been submerged since 2010 when the lake started swelling. The organization has invested large amounts of money to come up with alternative routes including cutting through a cliff to ensure tourists get value for their money,” he said.

TOURISM Lake Nakuru National Park Senior Warden, Edward Karanja addresses journalist at the natural resources during a media cafe' on biodiversity organised by Media for Environment, Science and Agriculture (Mesha). Image: LOISE MACHARIA

The Senior Warden said KWS lost more than Sh400 million worth infrastructure to the welling lake after it submerged roads, power lines, offices, camping sites and staff quarters.

He maintained there was so much to see at Lake Nakuru which is among the largest revenue earners because the swelling lakes of the Great Rift Valley had caused a habitat modification bringing in new species of fresh water birds in search of fish.

“Lake Nakuru’s biodiversity is very rich, it is home to both salt and fresh water lake birds, however, there been an increase of fresh water bird species following the accidental introduction of fish into the lake in 2020,” he said.

Karanja said there was three new types of fish including the Nile Tilapia in the lake and a consequential increase of bird species from the initial 400 to about 450 currently.

He said the lake was home to millions of the lesser and larger flamingos but the numbers have since dwindled to about 6,000 due to a change in the water quality whose PH has dropped from 10.5 to nine.

The flamingo have concentrated themselves along the shores on the southern side of the lake where they were busy foraging and making nesting.

The scientists who accompanied the media team said it was not a rare thing to see flamingos making nest in Lake Nakuru although they breed in Lake Natron in Tanzania.

 The park had been classified in different categories among the an Important Bird Area (IBA), a sanctuary for Rhinos and the Rothschild Giraffe, a World Heritage Site by the United Nations and Scientific Organisation (Unesco) and a Ramsar site.

It was recognized for having the largest euphorbia forest in the world until 2008 and 2007 when it was cleared by fire.

A senior Research Scientist at the Wildlife Research Training, Joseph Edebe explained that that the euphorbia forest was easily razed down and completely destroyed because the plants’ sap is highly flammable.

“There are plans to artificially regenerate the forest because natural regrowth may take time due to destruction by the wildlife,” he said.

Mesha Chief Executive Officer, Aghan Daniel said biodiversity was key to life and underlined the need for reporting issues around it.

 
TOURISM Dead acacia trees on a section of Lake Nakuru National Park terrestrial area. Image: LOISE MACHARIA

“It means that we are losing vital information that the public needs to know If journalists are not going to cover biodiversity effectively, frequently and accurately,” he said.

He said the loss and damage is due to effects of Climate Change like the ones experience at the Lake Nakuru National Park which are some of the issues to be discussed at the Conference of Parties 2027 (COP27) slated in Egypt late this year.

He said the more than Sh400 million loss recorded at the park was just a tip of the iceberg as there were similar scenarios in many party of Kenya and Africa in general despite the continent having contributed the smallest share of greenhouse gas emissions at approximately 3.8 per cent.

 
Ms Patricia Nyinguro

African continent challenged to improve their coordination regarding Climate issues

Irene Shone

Ms Patricia Nyinguro

Increased warming and associated impacts of climate creates new challenges and calls for improved coordination across governance levels.

This was recently said by Climate Scientist at Kenya Meteorological Department, Patricia Nying’uro at Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA)’ s first media cafe on COP-27 meeting. Nying’uro says that it is important to invest on climate change issues.   “Investments are particularly needed in capacity development and technology transfer, as well as in enhancing countries’ early warning systems, including weather, water and climate observing systems,” she says.

She says some of implications of projections for Africa include: projected increases in frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation and flooding, mainly in South East Africa, projected decrease in mean precipitation Mediterranean regions of Africa in the North as well as Central & West Southern African regions, as well as projected increases in frequency and intensity of droughts. She further says that many parts of Africa are identified as global hot-spots of high human vulnerability to climate hazards, mainly in areas of high poverty, poor governance, limited access to basic facilities, violent conflict and high climate-sensitive livelihoods.

“The number of people that will continue to be at risk from adverse impacts of climate change will increase significantly in the absence of robust response measures as population growth interacts with climate change,” she explains. She adds that, this is estimated at 1.312 billion for 2020, 17% of world population projected to grow to 40% of the world population by 2100.

She further laments that there is also a threat of Health impacts in Africa due to adverse climate change.

“Infectious diseases continue to be noted, like the increasing incidence of malaria, cholera outbreaks, especially following tropical cyclones in East and, Southern Africa,” she shares, explaining that seasonal transmission of vector-borne diseases is expected to increase, exposing tens of millions more people.

There is also 44% of heat-related mortality noted from 1991 to 2018, attributable to climate change in South Africa, she says.  “Above 1.5°C global warming the risk of heat-related deaths rises sharply, with at least 15 additional deaths per 100,000 annually across large parts of Africa,” explains Nying’uro. As a result of climate risks and threats, there are losses and damages noticed at approximately 337 million people who were affected by natural disasters between 2000 and 2019 as a result of floods at 80% and droughts at 16% rate.

This she says also affects food security. She explains that, food insecurity increases by five to 20 percent with each flood or drought in sub-Saharan Africa. ” Climate Change has reduced economic growth across Africa, increasing income inequality between African countries and countries in more temperate climates,” she says emphasizing that,

Africa has seen increasing losses to agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and infrastructure.

Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, a climate think-tank based in Nairobi addresses journalists during the Pre-COP27 Africa Media Conference for African Environmental journalists in Kigali City, Rwanda on September 22, 2022.

Experts: COP27 in Egypt should correct climate injustices in Africa

Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, a climate think-tank based in Nairobi addresses journalists during the Pre-COP27 Africa Media Conference for African Environmental journalists in Kigali City, Rwanda on September 22, 2022.

As the world and private sector leaders prepare to unite for COP27, a climate think tank says this will present an opportunity to correct climate injustices in Africa.

The Director of Power Shift Africa, a Nairobi-based non-governmental organisation, Mr Mohamed Adow, said the global climate meeting to be held in El-Sheikh city in Egypt from November 6-18, comes at a time when climate change is affecting the availability of food, energy and is also threatening the stability of economies of many third world countries.

“As we head to the COP27 Africa is disproportionately affected by climate change and many parts of the continent like Northern Kenya are ravaged by extreme drought which has disrupted the livelihoods of millions of poor Kenyans,” said Mr Adow.

He was speaking during the three days Pre-COP27 Africa Media Conference for African journalists that ended at Kigali City in Rwanda on Friday.

The conference was jointly organised by Media for Environment, Science and Agriculture (MESHA), Power Shift Africa and Rwanda Media Commission (RMC).

The conference attracted more than 50 journalists from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.

COP27 conference

“The COP27 conference in Egypt is a golden opportunity for Africa to come together and make a strong case for climate justice, and climate finance to access the much-needed financial resources to address a myriad of problems in the continent including famine to build a strong resilience system that communities can use to withstand climate change and adaptation,” said Mr Adow.

Mr Adow revealed that over 4 million Kenyans are facing severe drought, and lack of water and blamed the short-term solutions as one of the reasons that are exacerbating climate change-related challenges.

“What millions of Northern Kenya residents and other parts of Africa require is an investment that will help build resilience to help them be self-reliant and plan for future climate challenges,” added Mr Adow.

 

At the same time, Mr Adow said he was impressed by President William Ruto’s powerful speech at the United Nations Governing Council Assembly meeting in Washington where he committed to lead Africa to address key unique climate change challenges.

“After President Ruto’s speech we now need to hold him responsible for what he said so that he delivers for Kenya and entire Africa particularly on climate finance to deal with losses and damages that impact millions of people across the continent,” added Mr Adow.

“Unless we make a strong case of loss and damages, and climate finance there is no way we’re going to deliver justice for the poor residents of Africa who are ravaged by the climate challenges,” said Mr Dow.

According to Mr Adow Africa is home to about 17 per cent of the global population and accounts for less than four per cent of global emissions.

“Africa accounts for less than 0.15 per cent of global emissions yet we’re the ones who are badly affected by climate change. We suffer the most largely because of emissions from rich countries who are heavy emitters,” he explained.

Heavy emissions 

The official said the heavy emission by rich nations means they should bear the biggest responsibility and that would translate to climate justice.

“The developing countries are the main polluters and as they are prospering they are not bearing the cost of emission that is affecting the rest of the world.

“We require transition to renewable energy so that we [Africa] can be able to contribute to the solutions that the whole world requires to combat climate change which is the greatest enemy on the planet,” said Mr Adow.

Mr Adow noted that the only effective way to tackle the threat of climate change is for the world to come together and share efforts on the basis of responsibilities and capabilities.

“The rich nations owe the rest of the world a huge climate debt in the form of mitigation and adaptation. It is now the time for rich nations to help the poor nations offload the heavy debt burden so that they can survive climate change threats,” he concluded.

fmureithi@ke.nationmedia.com

Mohamed Adow

Campaigners vouch for climate justice

By Aghan Daniel I aghandan09@gmail.com

The fight against climate change will not be won unless climate justice is put at the centre of all negotiations, an advocate has said.

According to Mr Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, a Nairobi-based non-governmental organisation, the international showpiece to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt from November 6-18, comes at a time when climate change is affecting the availability of food, energy and is also threatening the stability of economies of many third world countries.

“As we go to the COP27 Africa is disproportionately affected by climate change and many parts of the continent like Northern Kenya are ravaged by extreme drought which has disrupted the livelihoods of millions of poor Kenyans,” said Mr Adow.

He was speaking during a two day Pre-COP27 Media Conference for African journalists that ended at Kigali in Rwanda last Friday.

The conference was jointly organised by the Media for Environment, Science and Agriculture (MESHA) which is Africa’s leading science media association, Power Shift Africa and Rwanda Media Commission (RMC). About 60 journalists from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria attended the pre-COP conference.

For starters, human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes

in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes includes heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones.

Experts say that Africa has the greatest number of climate change vulnerability hotspots more so in the East African region.

Further, Africa’s green house gases (GHGs) emissions are rising as countries develop. This raises issues of just transition, historical responsibility among others.

Increased warming and associated impacts creates new challenges and calls for improved coordination across governance levels. Scientists add that investments are particularly needed in capacity development and technology transfer, as well as in enhancing countries’ early warning systems, including weather, water and climate observing systems.

“Many parts of Africa are identified as global hot-spots of high human vulnerability to climate hazards, mainly in areas of high poverty, poor governance, limited access to basic facilities, violent conflict and high climate-sensitive livelihoods,” says Ms Patricia Nyinugurio, Kenya focal point at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“The number of people that will continue to be at risk from adverse impacts of climate change will increase significantly in the absence of robust response measures as population growth interacts with climate change,” adds Ms Nyinguro, a climate scientist who works at Kenya Meteorological Department.

In terms of losses and damages, Ms Nyinguro noted that approximately 337 million people were affected by natural disasters between 2000-2019 – floods 80% and droughts 16%  with nearly 6 million people displaced by weather-related disasters between 2018-2019. More depressing is the fact that 46,078 deaths were reported from weather-related disasters between 2000-2019 with this being the largest number of mortalities associated with floods since 1990.

In an apparent reference to the above damning statistic, Mr Adow had this to say, “The COP27 conference in Egypt is a golden opportunity for Africa to come together and make a strong case for climate justice, and climate finance to access the much-needed financial resources to address a myriad of problems in the continent including famine to build a strong resilience system that communities can use to withstand climate change and adaptation.

John_Kerry_portrait_of_Climate_Envoy

Kerry’s ‘tired rhetoric’ upsets Africa climate champs

By Aghan Daniel I aghandan09@gmail.com

John_Kerry_portrait_of_Climate_Envoy

US climate envoy John Kerry has inadvertently provoked the ire of African environmental activitists who claim his rhetoric downplays the dangers of climate change on the continent.

The campaigners slammed Kerry, President Joe Biden’s Special Climate Envoy for his ‘minimalist’ approach which they believe exposes a lack of comprehension of the magnitude of what’s in store for Africans from the vagaries of climate change.

In a petition seen by Sayansi Magazine, activists responding to a speech delivered by Kerry at the resumed 18th session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) taking place in Dakar, Senegal.

Coalescing under the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), the groups  drawn from diverse backgrounds and in 40 plus countries and sectors said the US Climate Envoy chose to play with “semantics” and termed his presence at AMCEN as a ‘public relations gimmick’ which they noted is characteristic of the US government.

“Africa is disappointed that John Kerry came to AMCEN without coming out strongly to deliver a bold commitment that would offer hope to families in the Horn of Africa, Sahel and the rest of Africa whose livelihoods have been turned upside down by a problem they have very little to do with,’ said Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director of the PACJA.

In his speech during the AMCEN, Kerry denied that the West and developed nations bear responsibility on climate change and urged every country to bear the burden of its impacts. 

The US climate envoy had rubbed Africans the wrong way by stressing the need for mitigation while they tend to favour a focus leaning towards adaptation.

According to Mamadou Barri, an activist from Senegal, Africans had expected Kerry to commit to supporting its agenda for the 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change set for Egypt in November. “Chief of our agenda in COP27 is recognition of Africa as a region of special circumstances and circumstance,” he said.

Mithika noted that for the last eight months, since the beginning of the year, African CSOs have conducted several consultations among themselves and governments, both formal and informal, and have identified critical “no-go zone areas” in engaging with the global community in COP27, the boundary through which the negotiators should not pass.

“A COP in Africa, undoubtedly, should recognize what has united all of us; special needs and circumstances on the continent that personify the impacts the climate crisis has condemned on humanity,” said Mithika.

Mithika said African CSOs consider it a mockery to the people on the continent when a top US diplomat spews out what Africans have heard over the years without telling them why his country continues to churn out tonnes of carbon emissions across the Atlantic and on its failure to honour its commitments on climate finance.

“Kerry’s mere recognition of the “climate crisis facing the African continent” is just a tired rhetoric which we hardly want to hear,” he said.