November 6, 2012

KCCWG Report

The best pieces of legislation are those driven by the target community, and the Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG) - a grouping of government and other stakeholders in the field of environment - has firmly grasped this concept. From 24th - 27th October 2012, Trans-Nzoia County was the host of the 30th such meeting, which started last year. AYICC-K members who took part in these climate change hearings were Susy Wandera and Kennedy Liti. This was going to be quite an interesting session because the County is quite diverse and rich in biodiversity; also, the Climate Change Authority Bill, currently tabled in parliament, was on the list of agenda.

On Thursday 25th October, the registration of participants began in earnest, and this was noteworthy because the participants were drawn from all over the County, and they comprised of teachers, farmers, government officials, civic leaders, women group representatives as well as young people, among others. This set the stage for quite an interactive session where the 'hot topics' were to be mapped for discussion the next day.  There were quite a number of pertinent issues that were raised: accelerated extinction of plant, animal and insect species, massive deforestation, human encroachment of riverine areas, erratic rainfall patterns, occurrence of drought resistant mosquito species, declining maize yields, discarding of inter-generational indigenous environmental education, appearance of invasive plant species, and poor preparedness for natural disasters. Need we point out what this sums up? Undoubtedly, climate change!

A participant making a point on the issue of intergenerational equity

Friday the 26th was a full day workshop, and all the issues raised in the previous day were up to discussion. Interestingly, the first agreement was that the most of the changes in the environment were triggered by human activities, and there was a strong call for all the governing entities, in collaboration with the people, to take up measures that would halt the rampant environmental degradation being witnessed in Trans-Nzoia County. To bottom-line these concerns, nostalgia laced the vivid recounts by the senior citizens in attendance that the environment in this area when they were young was quite different. For example, one old man recounted how he loved swimming and fishing in river Trans-Nzoia; now, who would dare swim in the murky waters of the river, let alone catch fish which is non-existent? But changing climate conditions, especially erratic and lessening rainfall is responsible for the reduction in maize yields: years ago, the leading farmers in this County used to harvest an average of 50 bags of maize per acre, but now even getting 25 bags per acre is a major feat. The unique Sitatunga antelope was also endangered due to the destruction of Saiwa Swamp.

After much deliberation, it was agreed that the residents would take up responsibility in areas of environmental conservation that fell within their jurisdiction. As a highlight of this commitment, a lady from one of the women groups demonstrated a simple yet highly effective solar cooker. Another gentleman also demonstrated charcoal stones made from waste biomass that lasted four times longer than charcoal from trees. There was also a lady, who was referred to as the Wangari Maathai of this County, showcased her environmental education and awareness projects; mind you, this lady is a trained teacher. These were great and inspiring indicators of how the community in this County had adopted climate change adaptation measures.

A demonstration on how the Solar CooKit works

The Solar CooKit

Last but not least, the Climate Change and Authority Bill was discussed. It was interesting how participants had combed through the document, and had come up with great suggestions to be included in this bill. Key to them was to restructure the proposed track of environmental education so as to start at Kindergarten level. This underlined how this community valued environmental education, especially the indigenous one. Also, it was highlighted that this Bill is one of the most community-driven and inclusive Bills ever tabled in Parliament. Upon the conclusion of the climate change hearings in this workshop, it was apparent that communities were committed to effectively address, mitigate and adapt to climate change as well as eradicating environmental degradation.

As Susy and Kennedy were in the Road to COP 18 thematic area of KCCWG, there was a clear indication of the relevance of some of the things we will be pressing for at COP 18: strengthening of the UNFCCC Financial Mechanism through the finalizing of the Green Climate Fund. Mind you, the money used to finance the solar cooker demonstrated by the lady during the workshop was from the $30 billion fast-start finance which was pledged during COP 17.  Thus, the message is very clear.
Susy presenting on the Road to COP18

Would we have termed the workshop successful if we had not drafted more youth groups into AYICC?  You all know the answer to this, we suppose, and the good news is tat we drafted two youth groups!
We Have Faith! Let us act now for climate justice!

Compiled by: Kennedy Liti and Susy Wandera



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