Amend legislation to incorporate climate change adaptation measures

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi's spouse Tessie with Environment Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya planting Acacia seeds at National Police College Embakasi B Campus in Nairobi County on July 29, 2023 during Ushiriki Wema tree Restoration. [Jenipheer Wachie, Standard]

As our nation journeys towards prosperity and sustainable growth, it is imperative that our laws and policies align with the aspirations of a developmental state. One such crucial legislation that requires immediate attention is the Kenyan Urban Areas and Cities Act (UACA 2019).

While the act represents a significant step towards urban development and management, it falls short in addressing vital aspects like climate change, disaster preparedness, energy and water security in rural municipalities. By drawing inspiration from the successful experiences of South Korea and South Africa, we can pave the way for a future where our rural areas are modernised and resilient, steering Kenya towards a prosperous developmental state.

Climate change poses a threat worldwide. Rural municipalities, being particularly vulnerable, require strategic planning and policy frameworks to combat its effects. South Korea, for instance, has successfully integrated climate change adaptation into its rural development strategies. By implementing sustainable land use planning, green infrastructure, and low-carbon technologies, they have reduced their environmental footprint while fostering resilient communities.

Kenya can follow suit by amending the UACA to incorporate climate change adaptation measures. By incentivising eco-friendly building practices, encouraging green spaces, and promoting sustainable agriculture, rural areas can better withstand the impacts of climate change. Furthermore, the integration of early warning systems and disaster response protocols will enhance the preparedness of these communities, safeguarding lives and livelihoods.

Disasters, both natural and man-made, can wreak havoc on rural communities, often leading to significant setbacks in development. South Africa's approach to disaster preparedness provides a valuable example of how rural areas can be made resilient. By investing in early warning systems, community training, and infrastructural reinforcement, South Africa has managed to mitigate the impact of disasters and enhance their response capabilities.

Kenya must address disaster preparedness through amendments to the UACA. By mandating the formulation of comprehensive disaster response plans, integrating risk assessments, and allocating resources for emergency preparedness, rural municipalities can minimise the damage caused by calamities. Empowering local authorities and communities to be proactive in disaster management will contribute to the development of a safer and more resilient Kenya.

Similarly, Energy and water security are essential pillars of sustainable development. Both South Korea and South Africa have made significant strides in these areas.

South Korea's adoption of renewable energy projects and South Africa's water conservation initiatives are prime examples of their commitment to a greener and more sustainable future. By amending the UACA, Kenya can promote energy and water security in rural municipalities.

Incentivising investments in renewable energy sources like solar and wind power will not only reduce dependency on fossil fuels but also create new opportunities for economic growth.

Similarly, implementing water conservation practices, rainwater harvesting, and efficient irrigation systems will ensure a steady supply of water, even in times of scarcity. Kenya can foster infrastructural development in its rural municipalities by allocating resources for targeted projects and incentivising private investments, thus creating an enabling environment for growth. Improved infrastructure will not only enhance the quality of life for rural residents but also attract businesses and investment.

Prof Miruka is the Director, School of Business and Management Studies, The Technical University of Kenya

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