Climate change is defined as a change in global or regional regular climate patterns. Such changes occur as a result of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and other greenhouse gases that trap heat causing an outburst of extreme weather changes such as intermittent floods and droughts. The effects of climate change are being felt globally and Kenya is no exception.
Situated at the equator, Kenya receives a good share of sunshine throughout the year. She has an area of 582,650sq. Km with 11, 227sq. Km comprising of water bodies. That said, it should be noted that Kenya’s climate is controlled and influenced by the onshore monsoon winds blowing from the Indian ocean. The onshore monsoon winds dictate the rainfall patterns in Kenya such that she experiences heavy long rains usually in late April, May and early June. This is usually followed by a short rainy season that normally wets the land in November through December followed roughly from mid-Dec to March by a dry season of hot usually rainless water. However, with climate change taking the world on a sprint it has become harder to predict the actual weather for a specific date. Across the globe, incidences of floods and droughts are on the rise such that seasons (hot, cool) are becoming increasingly unseasonable.Incidences of heavy downpour has been witnessed in the recent past in Mombasa and Nairobi parts of Kenya. Interestingly, Kenya’s climate varies by location; for instance, the coast being tropical has rainfall and high temperatures throughout the year, however this could not be the case anymore given the climate change effects.
In Western parts of Kenya, rainfall has been quite erratic, downing the hopes of a majority of maize farmers for better yields this year. At the time when most farmers were beginning to plant their maize the rainfall patterns were promising. However, this was not to be when the rainfall became erratic and scarce. This occurred at a critical time when farmers needed to topdress their maize fields. What was never foreseen now became an unmitigated disaster. Small scale farmers in the rural areas who fully rely on rain-fed agriculture were and are a disappointed lot. The rains disappeared for almost 2 months running when the maize fields were at a critical stage for water and fertilizer availability; needless to say, the situation is dire. According to the International Assessment on Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), agriculture is closely linked to many concerns that include biodiversity loss, water availability and global warming. It therefore focuses on how to make better use of agricultural science knowledge and technology to improve rural livelihoods, reduce hunger and poverty and foster equitable and sustainable development.
Agriculture is tied to climate change and one cannot fail to mention agriculture in matters regarding climate change. IAASTD observes that agriculture has expanded at the expense of the environment, take for example deforestation to create more land for planting crops. It encroaches on forest land and therefore posing a risk and an ultimate effect of more carbon in the atmosphere due to deforestation. How do we fight the effects of climate change on our globe? Food production is essential and thanks to non- profit organisations such as One Acre Fund. Besides supporting farmers with farming to improve their rural livelihood, One Acre Fund also supplies tree seedlings to farmers. As such , there is sustainable food production with no huge expense to the environment. Take for example the One Acre Fund programme model.
It has been instrumental in shaping the lives of thousands of farmers living in the rural areas of East Africa. It’s service bundle includes:-
1. Financing for farm inputs.
2. Distribution of seed and fertilizer.
3.Training on agricultural techniques.
4.Market facilitation to maximise profits from harvest sales.
With scarcity of rainfall, strategic measures need to be put in place that can help cushion farmers in the rural areas against the effects of climate change. In the case of prolonged dry spell, farmers with small acreages of land could be supplied with irrigation kits at affordable rates on condition that their farms are close to an available water source. This could help mitigate against the effects of scarce rainfall that have held farmers hostage for the better part of the long rains season. In the case of floods, the government and NGOs could come in and build efficient drainage systems, dykes that can prevent water logging and destruction of food crops.