Residents wade through floods caused by the swelling of Lake Nakuru

Not state, not people, ‘can address the real loss and damages

Residents wade through floods caused by the swelling of Lake Nakuru

By Ann Mikia I

The swelling of Lake Nakuru and eventual displacement of people living not too far from its shores was nothing like anyone had seen in decades. But here we were in 2020, reporting cases of lakes merging, homes, hotels and businesses being submerged, and more scary scenes that threatened the ecosystem.

In Mwariki, not too far from Lake Nakuru, Damaris Wairimu, 60, and Anne Wanjiru, 70, had to flee with their entire families to higher ground, as they watched the water body swell and slowly but surely invade their houses, rendering then victims of climate induced displacement.

“I had lived there since the 1970s and never seen anything like that. Our parents worked for the colonialists. Before the white people left, they subdivided the land to their employees. That’s how we got ours,” said Wairimu, adding: “I used to farm and grow vegetables, but since we were displaced, challenges have not ceased. Now I have high blood pressure.”

Wanjiru and several residents of Mwariki were at first reluctant to move. It took the waters to get right inside their homes for them to get the message that something so serious was happening. “We first wondered where we would go, what to carry and what not to. It was until the water levels rose and our beds were submerged that we fled. We lost a lot,” she narrated.

Part of the loss was the two acres on which Wanjiru grew vegetables and spices. It, too, was swallowed. As they escaped, they did not salvage much. It was a true case of everyone for themselves and God for all. “We escaped with the clothes we had on. At my age, what could I do? Everyone was carrying only what they could. Well-wishers on higher ground accommodated us as we figured out what to do,” said Wairimu.

The phenomenon was not peculiar to Rift Valley lakes. Down at the Lake Victoria Basin, there were horror stories. The lake literally invaded people’s homes, and displaced them. Hippos and snakes roamed freely, even to where the displaced found refuge. Livelihoods were lost. No one could fight back.

Henry Mangome, who spent at least Sh7 million USD 56,800 to construct a house in his ancestral home, saw the swelling Lake Victoria turn everything upside down. “My house’s walls cracked. A structural engineer examined it and recommended that it be brought down. He said the swelling of the lake had negatively affected the walls, and also suspected that a movement underground may have interfered with the house’s foundation, hence distabilising the whole structure,” said Mr Mangome.

The lake water has since receded, but many are still counting losses occasioned by its swelling.

“I had spent about Sh7 million USD 56,800 on the house.  I’m still servicing the loan, yet I will have to start from scratch. See what climate change did to me? Now you can imagine how much more poor families living around the lake suffered,” said Mr Mangome.

Overall, populations in Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Busia, Homa-Bay, Baringo, Tana River, Taita Taveta, Nairobi and Nakuru suffered unprecedented flooding in 2000, for some, worse than had been witnessed in almost a century. Some victims may never recover the loss and damage that ensued.

Dr Emmanuel Okunga, an epidemiologist at the Ministry of Health, says of the effects of climate disasters: “When people lose livelihoods, they may not feed well, and cases of malnutrition arise. Gender based violence is prevalent, not forgetting the water borne diseases.”

Mr Januaris Kasanga of Kenya Red Cross Disaster Management Department decried the health risks resulting from contamination of water by submerged toilets during flooding.

“Our response entails giving water purifiers and treatment chemicals for the Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) programme. In flooding situations, you cannot dig pit latrines; so we also give makeshift toilets. We now focus on localised solutions to local problems. We train community-based disaster responders on early warning and response,” said Mr Kasanga.

Lenencia Nyang’ori, a Red Cross disaster committee members in Busia, says it was not easy to convince possible flood victims to leave to higher ground. “After we get early warning from the Meteorological Department about imminent flooding in Budalangi, we advise residents to move to higher ground.  Some refuse to leave. And because they are given chance to choose where they prefer to be housed, some spouses go to separate places. This in itself poses a new challenge,” says Ms Nyang’ori.

Budalang’i, which had been synonymous with flooding during long rains, was not spared by the backflow of Lake Victoria. Busia Disaster Management Committee chairperson Peter Malomba says: “During the backflow many residents lost property and their houses destroyed.”

Normalcy has returned in many affected parts in Rift Valley, but, according to Red Cross, about 15 households are still supported in tents.

In November, the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, closed with a landmark breakthrough; an agreement to provide Loss and Damage funding for countries hit hard by climate disasters that stretch adaptation limits.

But Mr Mangome , who was at the COP27, says even with the breakthrough, it is still tough. “No compensation will be commensurate to the real losses incurred,” he says.

For Busia Deputy Commissioner Grace Ouma, even Government cannot do much. “The government cannot compensate flood victims, but only assists them with the help of other partners by providing just the basic needs.”


Alfred Wanzala (centre) from JKUAT’s directorate of research, production and 
extension with his colleagues at the Nairobi International Trade Fair.

African indigenous vegetables fight to survive climate change impact

Alfred Wanzala (centre) from JKUAT’s directorate of research, production and extension with his colleagues at the Nairobi International Trade Fair.

By Tebby Otieno |

Sylvia Munyoki, 44, walks around the Nairobi International Trade Fair grounds with hopes of getting more indigenous seeds to expand her vegetable kitchen garden.

Her passion for indigenous vegetables began when she grew up in Makueni County. She recalls her parents plucking and cooking indigenous vegetables that grew on their own.

“I like indigenous vegetables so much that I share them with rabbits. These are the vegetables that grow naturally in the forests, and I adore them,” she says.

Munyoki is, however, disturbed that the vegetables are no longer available. She decries the fact that the seeds have gone missing, and was therefore happy to obtain some during the agricultural exhibition.

“I live on a quarter-hectare plot of land and grow a lot of indigenous vegetables. I have a variety of indigenous vegetables in my kitchen garden, that is why you see I have purchased the African vine spinach, African kale, and pumpkins that I am going to plant,” she says.

The difficulty in obtaining indigenous vegetable seeds is not new. A survey carried out by researchers at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) on African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) showed that the seeds are disappearing because the vegetables no longer grow on their own.

“We did sampling of seeds from different varieties of vegetables, including African night shade (managu), the spider plant (saga), jute mallow (mrenda), amaranth specifically the ododo one because amaranth has so many lines, nderema, mitoo and pumpkins and our own Ethiopian African kale or kanzira,” says Alfred Wanzala from JKUAT’s directorate of research, production and extension.

The project’s nationwide survey prioritised the Western and Nyanza regions, which have the highest prevalence of AIVs. The various samples collected were taken to the university, where researchers conducted studies with various parameters. The survey included questions about how they grow, which climate they prefer, what they need, and the best conditions for growing AIVs.

The findings led to JKUAT researchers developing some superior seed varieties, which they then forwarded to the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), the country’s organisation tasked with quantification and certification.

This resulted in the release and gazettement of nine AIV seed varieties that can be rolled out and distributed to farmers for proper vegetable production.

The studies by JKUAT also discovered that AIVs lack proper production protocols, farmer neglect, and recipes that highlight the key nutrition elements obtained from AIVs, which are all issues that the institution has since resolved.

According to Wanzala, JKUAT is currently running a project in which a team of agricultural experts visits small-scale farmers and trains them on planting protocols through on-site farm demonstrations and the provision of proper planting materials. This, he says, helps farmers to properly prepare land, do proper demarcation, proper spacing, and use proper quantity of seeds, as opposed to traditional methods in which farmers broadcast seeds and end up wasting a lot or underutilising them.

“For proper usage of seeds in a plot measuring 10 by 10 metres you only need 25 grams of most of these vegetables and you will get maximum production. It’s recommended that you do 30 centimetres from one line to another and 20 centimetres from one seed to another,” Wanzala explains.

The research also showed that AIVs are overlooked by stakeholders who believe they belong to poor families, despite the health benefits they have.

Wanzala, however, is pleased that this is changing, with five-star hotels already beginning to include them in the diet. JKUAT is also involving schools in their outreach programme to encourage students to form 4K clubs and plant AIVs.

 “We want people also to be independent because the complaints we have been getting from farmers is that they go to agro-vets, buy seeds but they do not germinate. At JKUAT, we train farmers on a whole package from land preparation, planting, vegetable maintenance, harvesting to recipes,” he says. At the end, the farmers regenerate their own seeds.

The research also shows that nine in every 10 AIVs farmers depend on regenerated seed.

 Wanzala says through proper farming, farmers will harvest enough of the vegetables that they will eat, sell and also get bulk seeds for own consumption and surplus to share with their neighbours.

Mary Abukutsa, a professor of horticulture and researcher at JKUAT, says climate change has an impact on AIVs, while the vegetables can also be used to mitigate climate change impacts.

“When there is drought, we do pre-season agriculture by putting some of the climate-smart technologies in place to ensure that you give enough water to the plant to produce,” says Prof Abukutsa.

The issue of perishability also arises as vegetables grow well during the rainy seasons when farmers would have vegetables in plenty while during dry season they face shortages.

But with the findings, JKUAT has solved the challenge by coming up with the preservation methods.

Through this solution the vegetables are dried using a solar dryer before packaging them to ensure they are in optimal condition that make them fit for consumption even one year after harvesting without being frozen.

Prof Abukutsa encourages farmers to use the rain by planting indigenous vegetables, as some parts of Kenya are already receiving rains following a prolonged drought that resulted in food shortages.

“For example, cabbage takes six months to get ready while AIVs take only a month to be ready. So, even with a little rain, you will still have your harvest. Some of them are also drought resistant,” she says.


Experts say pastoralists are on the edge of climate change adaptability 
due to perennial prolonged droughts

Why humans must review their relationship with nature as climate change wreaks havoc

Experts say pastoralists are on the edge of climate change adaptability due to perennial prolonged droughts

By Joyce Chimbi |

Dry rivers and shallow wells characterise the terrain in the Southeastern parts of Makueni County.

Ravaged by a severe drought where temperatures rose to heights not experienced in the last 40 years, residents fear that serious effects of climate change may have accelerated sooner than expected.

That even bringing down global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius as espoused in the Paris Agreement will no longer be enough is a reality slowly dawning on the people.

“In October, we were feeding our cows that had just calved porridge because we had nothing else to offer and they could not walk for long distances looking for water and pasture,” says Morris Muli from Usungu village in Makueni.

At the height of the drought, from February to October 2022, along the Garissa-Nairobi highway, children waited under the scorching sun for left-over food items and drinks from travellers.

Animal carcasses and goats at the verge of death from lack of water and pasture could also be seen along the highway. Even in the face of looming threat to life from the most prolonged dry spell, pastoralists do not consume dying livestock.

Kenyan government data shows that across Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) spanning over 23 counties, the drought killed an estimated 1.5 million livestock.

“Worse still, the country’s place as a biodiversity hotspot is under threat. We have seen a serious decline in wildlife, especially between February and October 2022. One of the big fives was devastatingly ravaged by the drought,” says John Mwangi Gicheha, a biodiversity expert and independent researcher.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) released a worrisome report that an estimated 205 elephants died in just nine months. This, Gicheha says, has heightened fears that the country’s broken relationship with nature is reaching a point of no return.

The country’s first ever National Wildlife Census report finalised in August 2021 pointed to signs of trouble.

 For instance, at least five wildlife species are critically endangered and could disappear in the immediate future. There are just 1,650 Tana River Mangabey, 897 black rhinos, 497 Hirolas, 51 Sable antelopes and 15 Roan antelopes.

These findings are in line with the 2022 Living Planet Index, which analysed approximately 32,000 populations of 5,230 species across the world. The Index was conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), an independent conservation organisation.

It is the most comprehensive report on the state of global vertebrate wildlife populations and it makes a startling revelation, that the world’s wildlife populations have declined by 69 per cent since 1970.

The greatest regional decline in wildlife population is in the Latin America and the Caribbean region whose average population decline is 94 per cent.


Africa comes second with a 66 per cent decline in its wildlife populations over the past 52 years and across the board, the poor and marginalised remain highly vulnerable and most affected by the decline.

By tracking trends in the abundance of mammals, fish, reptiles, birds and amphibians around the world since 1970, a disturbing image emerged; that one million plants and animals are threatened with extinction. Worse still, 1-2.5 per cent of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish have already gone extinct.

Key findings include revelations that monitored freshwater populations are hardest hit as there is an alarming decline of 83 per cent in the last 50 years, more than any other species groups.

Overall, the global abundance of 18 of 31 oceanic sharks and rays declined by 71 per cent since 1970. By 2020, three-quarters of sharks and rays were threatened with an elevated risk of extinction. Kenya is currently home to nine whale sharks, two blue whales and 17 tiger sharks, according to the National Wildlife Census.

The decline in freshwater population is mainly caused by habitat loss and barriers to migration routes, which account for an estimated half the threat to these populations.

Further, only 37 per cent of rivers that are longer than 1,000 kilometres remain free flowing in their natural state.

“The crises that are currently unfolding are the climate change and loss of biodiversity. In Kenya, we are talking about the endangering of mangroves and consequent loss of marine ecosystem, overfishing and the endangering of wild tree species due to overlogging,” says Timothy K Orare, a university lecturer.

A report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) revealed that illegal trade in wild species represents the third largest class of all illegal trade, with estimated annual values of up to US$199 billion (Ksh24 trillion). Timber and fish make up the largest volumes and value of illegal trade in wild species.

Orare says there is an urgent need to redefine “our relationship with nature”.

“Nature does not solely exist for our own benefit as human beings, nature is not an infinite resource. One in five people globally directly rely on wild plants and algae for their food and income. On current trajectory, we are witnessing a collapse of livelihoods and economiesm,” he says.

Orare says people must learn to live as one with nature, or living in accordance with nature.

“We are currently living from nature. Prioritising short-term economic gains and profits but the consequences are unfolding right before our very eyes. Our survival as human beings in closely intertwined with nature,” he says.

Gicheha echoes other biodiversity experts in cautioning against dominating the natural world irresponsibly, taking nature for granted, exploiting of resources wastefully and unsustainably, and distributing these resources unevenly because these actions have life altering consequences.

Silas Otieno works on a part of his land that he has rehabilitated after the damage cause by sand harvesting

Sand harvesters drop trade to mitigate climate change effects

Silas Otieno works on a part of his land that he has rehabilitated after the damage cause by sand harvesting

By John Riaga |

When Silas Otieno, 39, was asked to abandon his daily trade of sand harvesting from River Kibos in Kisumu County, western Kenya, it did not make a lot of sense to him.

He had spent the better part of his life diving into the waters and emerging with buckets full of sand. He would do this alongside his peers from Komonge Village until it was enough to fill one lorry. From these proceeds, he would feed his family and send his children to school.

When the parcel of land riparian to the sand harvesting site was bought and fenced off, Otieno lost his daily income from sand harvesting but got a deal for a monthly salary. He now works as the lead conservationist of the environment that he once took part in destroying.

Unknown to Mr Otieno and his peers, they actively contributed to the devastating effects of climate change that has now got the whole world talking.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), sand mining from rivers and marine ecosystems has led to significant environmental impacts, including river erosion, shrinking deltas, land-use changes, air pollution, salinisation of coastal aquifers and groundwater reserves, threats to freshwater and marine fisheries and biodiversity.

Oblivious of the effects of their actions, many people continue to harvest sand from rivers, not just in Komonge Village but throughout Kenya.

Human activities such as sand mining have been cited by climate change experts as the leading effect on greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Paul Oloo, the Kisumu County Meteorological Director, says human activities had increased the concentration of the GHGs tremendously.

He says the initial ability of the earth to self-regulate the GHGs had been compromised as a result of their concentration levels being interfered with due to issues like accelerated population growth and the large expansion of industries across the earth.

“In its self-regulation mechanism, if for instance the amount of radiation hitting the surface of the earth is 100 units, the same is supposed to be released back into the atmosphere,” Mr Oloo explains.

However, due to the disruption of the concentration levels of the GHGs, a percentage of the radiation is not able to leave the surface of the earth. “This is what increases the temperatures on the earth surface” he says.

With riverbank erosion, air pollution and the threat to biodiversity, it is not difficult to tell that the future of the residents of Komonge village is disturbingly endangered if the wanton sand harvesting is not stopped.

Retired teacher Leonard Ating’a stands at the edge of his farm wondering how his parcel that used to stretch into the river has shrunk in size over the years.

“My parcel used to go beyond where I stand now, but the river, over the years has kept moving farther into my land and that of my neighbours here,” says Ating’a, 81.

Just next to him, there are two huge gaping holes on the farm. They caved in as a result of sand harvesting.

How the harvesters dug out the sand underneath his vegetables farm is beyond his understanding.

Thanks to efforts being made by Otieno on the adjacent parcel being turned into an eco-tourism resort by planting of trees and grass along the hitherto destroyed shores of River Kibos, there is hope for Ating’a and his neighbours.

“I had no idea about climate change and how sand harvesting was encouraging the dire situation. I was only fending for my family.

Now that I know better, I am leading the fight to end sand harvesting here and ensure we restore our natural resources and the ecosystem here,” says Otieno.

In 2009, the Kenyan government issued sand harvesting guidelines that were meant to regulate the industry.

This was as a result of the widespread problems caused by sand harvesters at river banks, wetlands and even road reserves.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Kisumu County Director Tom Togo says there are plans to turn the guidelines into law to make them more effective.

“The guidelines as they are, are not binding legally and those who infringe them cannot be held liable. But if we successfully turn them into law, we shall be able to deal with the issue of wanton sand harvesting effectively,” says Mr Togo.

Oloo says that while it would take time to reverse the effects of climate change, it is important for people to resort to adaptation measures to try and mitigate those effects.

“It is not possible to eliminate climate change; we can only adapt,” he says.

Oloo says 90 per cent of natural disasters around the world are climate change related. Since human activities are the main causes of climate change, it therefore means that human beings must be at the centre of efforts to mitigate it.

A climate change negotiator being interviewed by Aimable Twahirwa from
 Rwanda one of the journalists supported by MESHA to attend COP-27.

African negotiators wary on climate financing

A climate change negotiator being interviewed by Aimable Twahirwa from Rwanda one of the journalists supported by MESHA to attend COP-27.

By Agatha Ngotho |

African group of negotiators have expressed disappointment that the Ksh12 trillion (US$100 billion) pledge by developed to developing countries remains unfulfilled.

Alioune Ndoye, President of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), underscored the importance of delivering the $100 billion as soon as possible.

This will help build trust and faith in the multilateral process of addressing climate change.

“We urge developed countries to deliver on their commitment to meet the goal and ensure the progression of efforts in the on-going mobilisation of climate finance,” said Ndoye while speaking to the media on the status of the negotiations at COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

“We urge developed countries to take the lead in implementing their targets while providing enhanced support to developing countries.”

Collins Nzovu, Minister of Green Economy and Environment from Zambia, which chaired the African Group of Negotiators, said COP27 had been dubbed an implementation COP.

“Africa is worst affected by the climate crisis and yet contributes least to the pollution that causes climate change,” said Nzovu, adding that Africa is plagued by complex overlapping challenges, and many generations of Africans have been left behind and suffer consequences of actions not of their own making.

The systemic problems facing Africa require dedicated and targeted interventions. This will also unleash our continent’s potential to contribute to achieving the 1.5 degrees Celcius global warming.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, Africa will be impacted more than any other continent while it only contributes less than four per cent of the world’s total carbon emissions.


The report indicated that Africa has the lowest historical and current emissions. It estimates that adaptation costs in developing countries will reach $127 billion (Ksh15.5 trillion), and Africa needs up to $86.5 billion (Ksh10.5 trillion) annually by 2030.

The IPCC report further showed that Africa has suffered a 34 per cent decline in food production and loss and damage to agricultural productivity.

The leaders called on all parties to work constructively towards reaching an agreement on a framework to enable achieving and assessing progress towards the Global Goal on Adaptation.

The Loss and Damages Fund

 On November 20, countries made the landmark decision to provide loss and damage funding for countries most impacted by climate change effects. The breakthrough decision on compensation for loss and damage, can be considered as arguably the biggest win from COP27. This included the creation of a dedicated fund to support the nations that are most vulnerable and most impacted by the adverse effects of the climate crisis. They will be supported for losses arising from droughts, floods, rising seas, and other disasters attributed to climate change. There was also a call for new funding arrangements. To flesh this out, a transition committee, made up of representatives of 24 countries, was created to make recommendations on how to operationalize both the new funding arrangements and the new fund, to be discussed at the next COP.

The plethora of funds, at face value, always looks like a very positive step. This is undoubtedly the case, however missed funding targets by developed countries and difficulty in accessing the funds by African countries have remained as key constraints. According to the OECD, between 2016-2019 developed countries have fallen short of the USD 100 billion annual target for climate action in developing countries, yet this target is well below the estimated financing need. Africa has received only about USD 20 billion of this between 2016-2019. The Africa Group of Negotiators on Climate Change, have actually assessed the scale of need as rising to USD 1.3 trillion annually by 2030.

Victor Orindi of Adaptation Consortium

Kenyan team among winners of Local Adaptation Champions Awards at COP27

Victor Orindi of Adaptation Consortium

By Ruth Keah |

As curtains closed on COP27 at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, a Kenyan team was among the four winners of the Local Adaptation Champions Awards, organised by the Global Centre on Adaptation.

The awards recognise locally led efforts to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change across four categories: financial governance, inclusive leadership, capacity and knowledge, and local innovation.

Adaptation Consortium, led by Victor Orindi, was awarded for its efforts in bringing together people with a shared vision of empowering the community in responding and adapting to climate change challenges.

Speaking to our reporter after receiving the award, in the financial governance category, Mr Orindi said his initiatives were inspired after he noticed that climate finance was not easily accessible to everybody, especially the vulnerable communities.

 “We noticed that while a lot was happening in climate finance, it was not happening in a coordinated manner. Vulnerable communities were not able to access funds and we noticed a barrier in sustained funding streams; and that communities could not have a say in the work to be implemented,” he said.

“So, we started bringing people together towards a shared vision of empowering the community.”

Mr Orindi, who is the National Coordinator of the Adaptation Consortium, said the only way countries can successfully mitigate climate change is by making sure that all voices are heard.

“Responding and adapting to climate challenges largely depends on context; and the only way you can get that right is by ensuring that those who are impacted have a say in terms of how and where things are done. So, enabling them to be involved in planning process ensures that their voices count at the end of the day,” Orindi added. 

The Adaptation Consortium supports communities to create, access, and use climate finance from varied sources to reduce their vulnerability to climate change, while strengthening public participation in the management and use of funds.

The Consortium has also designed a County Climate Change Fund to attract climate finance from public, private, local, and international sources, giving sub-national governments and communities a predictable and sustained source of finance for adaptation and resilience-building efforts.

Speaking during the awarding ceremony, Kenya’s Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya called on more partners to fund more adaptation interventions identified by Kenyans.

“The GCA awards are about inspiring and motivating innovative and potentially scalable interventions. As a country, we are already taking forward many of the good practices and lessons from Ada work through the government-led/World Bank-supported Financing Locally Led Climate Action (FLLoCA) programme, among others,” said Ms Tuya.

“We hope that more partners can join our national-level efforts to provide adequate resources to finance the priority adaptation interventions identified by our people.”

Prof Patrick Verkooijen, GCA Chief Executive Officer, said such innovations require support to be scaled up so as to achieve the required impact.

“Our winners show that community-centric and locally led solutions to the climate crisis exist, but they require support and recognition to be scaled up, and to achieve the most impact,” he said.

“The GCA is working with international financial institutions and governments to introduce these best practices to bigger funding streams, while maintaining what is at the heart of these impactful solutions and of successful adaptation – local leadership.”

Each winner will receive €15,000 (Ksh1.8 million) in funds to further the work they are doing in the spirit of the locally led adaptation principles. They will also have access to a global network of change makers.

The final list of winners was picked from a shortlist of 20 finalists and included a diverse selection of organisations from Kenya, Bangladesh, India and Nepal

Front row (from left to right) Aimable Twahirwa (Rwanda); Jennifa Gilla (Tanzania); Agatha Ngotho (Kenya) and Violet Nakamba (Zambia). Back row: Aghan Daniel (Team leader, MESHA); Busani Bafana (Zimbabwe) and Francis Mureithi (Kenya).

MESHA at UN Summit on Climate Change (COP27)

Front row (from left to right) Aimable Twahirwa (Rwanda); Jennifa Gilla (Tanzania); Agatha Ngotho (Kenya) and Violet Nakamba (Zambia). Back row: Aghan Daniel (Team leader, MESHA); Busani Bafana (Zimbabwe) and Francis Mureithi (Kenya).

With support from the International Development Research Centre’s eastern and southern Africa office based in Nairobi, your preferred science journalists association, MESHA, supported 7 journalists to cover the COP-27 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt last November.


Ten other journalists including one television crew from Seychelles followed the conference virtually from their home countries. Today, we have received 130 story links and eight summaries from the grantees supported by IDRC. Here are a few photos from our grantees who travelled to Sharm.


Today, we have received 130 stories from the grantees and eight summaries from the team. Here are a few photos from Sharm el Sheikh.

Ethiopia needs $157b to implement climate adaptation programme

By Mekonnen Teshome |

With the adoption of a Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy (CRGES), Ethiopia has made exemplary climate change adaptation moves over the last decade.

However, the national programme now faces the challenge of lack of global climate financing.   

The country says it needs $157 billion (Ksh19 trillion) to implement its long-term low emissions development strategies (LT-LEDS).

Ethiopia’s climate financing challenges were brought to light by the country’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) experts at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

According to the experts, though Ethiopia is currently facing the worst impacts of climate change in the last 40 years, the support from “development partners” was negligible in relation to climate change financing. 

International Environmental Agreements Negotiations Director with EPA, Mensur Dese said impacts of climate change, including recurrent droughts, flash floods and erratic rains have increased drastically over the last four decades in Ethiopia due to the ever changing climate. 

The experts, who presented Ethiopia’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP), further elaborated that lowland areas of the country – Somalia, Oromia, South and Southwest regional states – have been severely affected due to the human-induced challenge.

According to the experts’ report, 8.1 million people were affected by the drought this year, over 2.1 million cattle died and 22 million are still at risk, and the situation in Eastern Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular calls for immediate global climate financing response.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, noting the unfulfilled promises of the developed countries in tackling climate change impacts, said, “It is past time to address the growing financial and technological needs. Pledges must be translated into new resources and support. The time to avert the worst effects of the climate crisis is running out. We must now scale up our efforts.”

“Increased funding must reflect the magnitude of Africa’s challenge. Countries must honour their climate pledges, provide the necessary financing, and address the outstanding issues of loss and damage and the carbon trading mechanism in ways that allow for faster results.”


Mr Abiy said Africa is the most vulnerable to climate change while it accounts for less than five per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and approximately 17 per cent of total global population.

Nevertheless, he added, the continent receives less than five per cent of the world’s climate fund, which is mainly in debt.

Developed countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and Australia acknowledged that there is currently a funding gap in addressing loss and damage, at an informal consultation on loss and damage finance during COP27.

As part of COP negotiations, developed countries pledged to provide $100 billion (Ksh12.2 trillion) in climate finance to developing countries by 2020. However, they are yet to fulfill the commitment.

With the announcement of $150 million (Ksh18.3 billion) donation for Africa’s adaptation to climate change by US and Egypt last week, it seems that the appeal is being fulfilled.

However, the global financial requirement is huge as the impact of climate change is rapidly increasing.

To this end, a United Nations-backed report presented at COP27 reveals that developing and emerging countries, excluding China, need investments well beyond $2 trillion (Ksh244 trillion) annually by 2030 if the world is to stop the global warming juggernaut and cope with its effects. 

One of the lead authors of the report, Nicholas Stern, confirms that rich countries should recognise that it is in their self-interest as well as a matter of justice, given the severe impacts caused by their high levels of current and past emissions, to invest in climate action in emerging markets and developing countries.

Mr Abbas Mohamed, Chief Executive Officer of Economic Analysis and Policy at Ethiopia’s Ministry of Planning and Development, in his brief to donor countries and development partners in Sharm El-Sheikh, solicited for the support of development partners to help the country implement its plan.

He told participants that the country envisages an average of 9.1 per cent economic growth in 30 years when the plan is implemented and 85.3 million jobs will be created due to the green economy the country is going to realise.

Dr Mithika Mwenda addresses climate activists during one of the 
COP27 sessions in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

Why African CSOs are disappointed by COP27 outcomes for the continent

Dr Mithika Mwenda addresses climate activists during one of the COP27 sessions in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

By Clifford Akumu |

African civil society organisations (CSOs) have expressed disappointment with the progress and expected outcomes from COP27 as the curtains closed on the global climate change meet in Sharma El Sheikh, Egypt.

The CSOs said contrary to expectations by Africa, COP27 left “millions of Africans in continued climate-related misery”.

Dr Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), said Africans leave COP27 a disappointed lot.

“We came with the hope that the momentum created by the discussions in the year ahead of COP27 under the facilitation of UNFCCC, the COP Presidency and friends of the COP would materialise with concrete outcomes in Egypt. But unfortunately, the end of COP is an anti-climax,” said Dr Mwenda.

He said people facing starvation in the Eastern and Horn of Africa because of climate-related droughts, women in Nigeria drowning in floods and those buttered by the cyclones in Southern Africa would continue to wait for signals on action from the international community.

“This will continue to delay because decisions on loss and damage have been delayed yet again to 2024,” he said.

Tracy Sony, a gender specialist from Botswana, said the most pressing issue of concern is the lack of clear linkages between yearly plans, programmes and discussions from across continents but without concrete outcomes at every other COP.

“Why should we be meeting every year in these COPs that end up with no substantial outcomes?” Sony posed.

Augustine Njamnshi, Chair of Political and Technical Committee at PACJA, said Africans left COP27 less reassured of the goodwill of global leaders, especially those in high-polluting industrialised countries. He said climate activists expected to see delegations from the developed countries make bold decisions reflecting the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.

Njamnshi said that as in Glasgow last year, which lowered the bar and deferred urgent actions despite the high risk of missing the Paris Agreement targets, COP27 has dashed the hopes of the African people, potentially raising their plight.

Mentioning areas Africans felt let down by the COP27, he said failure to admit Africa’s special needs and circumstances on the agenda of COP27 contributed to the slow progress, delays and, in some cases, the lowering of ambition on issues pertinent to Africa.

In addition, the deferral of a decision on financing loss and damage to 2024 with no guarantees of an outcome that reflects the aspirations and hopes of Africa and the lower-than-needed emission reduction ambition announced by big polluters, particularly the EU, have downgraded the COP in the eyes of Africans.

Njamnshi said the lack of a clear trajectory for phasing out fossil fuels, which has resulted in the decision by some countries to continue using the high-polluting sources of energy that have powered the same economic model behind the current climate crisis, would not be helpful.

“After a careful examination of what needs to change to rekindle hope and justify Africa’s continued engagement with the global effort to address the climate crisis, we call on African leaders to reassess the relevance of the UNFCCC and COP processes to the African people and take radical actions to strengthen Africa’s voice and participation,” he said.

He demanded of big polluters to honour their engagement to deliver the resources needed to address the climate crisis in Africa, especially as it concerns adaptation and loss and damage.

Florence Kasule, a climate activist from Uganda, said African women feel disappointed by the process and progress at this COP.

“The COP was tagged as an implementation COP with its promise on key African issues and had women excited since they are the major implementers of climate action at the grassroots,” she said.

However, she added, women feel disappointed by the lack of action on adaptation, loss and damage, which has meant little action on agriculture on which the economies of African countries rely and given that women drive the venture.

Lucky Abeng, a young man from Nigeria, said the youth that make up 70 per cent of the population of the continent left COP27 disappointed.

“Young people have been disadvantaged and look to next year with uncertainty. The COP27 progress has done nothing but punctured the pride of the African youth,” he said.

60-year-old James Nyagwoka at his arrowroots farm in Kegagati, Kisii County.

Farmers forced to act smart to tackle effects of climate crisis on agriculture.

By Rosemary Onchari |

Margaret Nyaboke was an optimistic farmer as she supervised workers planting maize on her farm four months ago. She projected returns from sales of at least 75 per cent of the produce, and knew the remainder would last her small family a year.

But she was all wrong. A sizable portion of the crops soon started yellowing and their growth stunted. She has not experienced the yellowing and stunted growth for the 10 years she has been a farmer.

“We had rains for about one month, and we hurriedly tilled the land and planted. But the rains did not last,” she says.

Compared to the previous season, her maize harvest went down from 30 sacks to 26 in the last harvest season.

Due to the unpredictable weather patterns, Nyaboke is now contemplating shifting focus from maize farming to indigenous vegetables.

Africa has recently suffered extreme weather events such as prolonged droughts and flooding, besides unpredictable rain patterns that have disrupted farmers’ plans and messed yields, putting many lives at risk of food insecurity.

Globally, at least 350 million farmers appealed to leaders at the November 2022 United Nations    Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) to increase adaptation finance. They also appealed for promotion of a shift to more diverse, low-input agriculture to help farmers adapt to climate change.

Statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have shown that more than 60 per cent of Africa’s 1.4 billion people live in rural areas and depend on climate-sensitive livelihoods like rain-fed agriculture.

Meanwhile, James Nyagwoka, who grows arrowroots in Kegati village, Kisii County, has joined in the efforts to tackle effects of climate change by adopting climate smart farming.

“Since the disruption of weather patterns in the last four years, I no longer depend on the rains, I irrigate my farm,” he said.

A water well and a nearby river provide steady supply of water to his farm, especially during the dry season.

Nyagwoka started growing arrowroots in 2015, as it is not prone to many diseases and pests and also because it requires little agronomic practices. He has utilised the spaces between the arrowroots to grow kales and spinach for subsistence and economic purposes.

This season, Nyagwoka planted 100,000 arrowroots. He projects to harvest in December.

Kisii Country Director of Agriculture Nathan Soire said since the intensity and distribution of rainfall had been disrupted, farmers are forced to embrace new ways out.

The long rainy season in the high-altitude area used to be from December to February. This was the normal planting season for food crops. In the low-altitude areas, planting season would start between February and March. But this is no longer certain.

Diseases and pests such as the fall army worms, which thrive in high temperatures, have affected crop production, causing farmers losses and untold suffering.

Soire now says the local ministry is now creating awareness on soil conservation and water harvesting methods. It has increased awareness on the importance of agroforestry, according to Soire.

The ministry has sensitised farmers not to rely on rain-fed agriculture but instead adopt technologies such as use of irrigation.

“We have encountered situations where it stops to rain just when crops are flowering or fruiting. These are critical stages where the crops need water more.

But due to climate change farmers suffer losses due to low production,” he said.

Agriculture officers have always encouraged farmers to use organic manure to improve the soil texture and structure for capacity to hold adequate water over a long period. Farmers have also been advised to plant during the onset of rainy seasons and also supplement the rainfall with irrigation systems.

Cover crops and mulching is also encouraged as a means to tackle effects of the climate crisis on agricultural yield.

Kisii County Head of Meteorological Department Henry Sese has meanwhile urged farmers to acquaint themselves with the changing weather patterns as well as identify different types of crops that can adapt.

“During the dry season, we advise farmers to grow crops that require little rainfall such as cassava, finger millet, sorghum, and sweet potatoes, which take about three months to mature,” said Sese.