We need more climate-informed health planning approaches in climate action plans

 Youth Advocate Atieno Olang. [Courtesy]

It has been almost a month since Cop28 ended and we witnessed floods across the country. Lives were lost in the process, properties damaged and persons displaced.

The Kenya El Nino steering committee recorded dozens of deaths with counties in the northern part of Kenya being the most affected. Was there some precautionary measures put in place? What happened to the emergency kitty that county governments were supposed to receive in response to the floods?

We continue to have conferences where heads of state gather and discuss issues, they purport affect their citizens. More often than not, treaties are signed, ratifications are made, commitments are launched and sanctions invoked, particularly for states that fail to dance to the pipers’ tune. What happens next is left for the unknown. Implementation of the declarations becomes a push and pull between governments and the people.

One thing remains constant and fundamental - the right to health in its entirety including the right to a system of health protection that gives everyone an equal opportunity to enjoy the highest attainable level of health. In Kenya for instance, with floods within the most affected counties, health facilities were rendered inaccessible. Uptake of medical services were crippled. Unfortunately, expectant women and generally women of reproductive ages were not able to access reproductive health care.

The transition to clean energy in countries such as Kenya would ensure vulnerable communities whose health is at risk due to the production/burning of fossil fuels escape the burden of expensive health care. Similarly, as part of climate justice, those who have health implications due to the emission of fossil fuels over the years must receive compensation.

Building climate-resilient societies and investing in practical solutions must have a collective approach where people’s lives and livelihoods are centred. The fight against hunger and malnutrition in most parts of Kenya has been a result of prolonged droughts, equally water and sanitation have been undermined due to the climate crisis among most African countries.

We need more climate-informed health planning approaches in climate action plans. Climate Financing should also address financial investment in health crises as a result of climate change and public health campaigns need to advocate for climate-smart innovations within the communities.

-The author is Youth Advocate at NAYA Kenya, a Gender and Social Inclusion officer, and a Pan-African feminist