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Climate Scientists warn of worse drought situation ahead

By Brigid Chemweno | Mar 23rd 2017 | 3 min read
By Brigid Chemweno | March 23rd 2017

Climate Scientists from multi-international agencies have warned that the ongoing drought situation in Kenya will get worse despite shallow rainfall witnessed in various parts of the country.

The experts who include representatives from the government, private sector, the Red Cross movement and other humanitarian agencies said slight rains is not an indication that the drought is over.

"We should step up our efforts to support the vulnerable communities in the country. The situation is getting worse; a depressed rainfall is an indication that the drought situation is worsening," said Ahmed Idris, Kenya Red Cross head of Policy and Advocacy.

The scientists who released a detailed study of the Kenyan drought, looked separately at two regions in the country; the north-west, incorporating weather station data from Marsabit, and the south-east; incorporating weather data from Lamu.

"We also looked at the influence of the Pacific El Niño and La Niña phenomena that would respectively increase and decrease rainfall in Kenya," said Dr Friederike Otto, Deputy Director of the Oxford University Environmental Change Institute.

Mr Idris noted that the Kenya Red Cross will be prompted to revise its appeal to target more people in the country.

"We will have to revise our appeal to target more people in the country so that we may not be caught flat-footed," Idris said.

The latest report from the Kenya Meteorological Department indicates that depressed rainfall is expected over most parts of the country, especially the Eastern region, during March to May long rains season.

The April to May 2017 weather outlook further indicates that the distribution of March to May 2017 seasonal rainfall is expected to be generally poor in most parts of the country.

However, the climate scientists who had converged for a three day conference to study the Kenyan drought, linked ocean surface water temperature (sea surface temperature) patterns such as La Nina to having an impact by reducing rainfall in Kenya.

The conference wrapped up a year-long Programme that also included the United Kingdom-based Climate and Development Knowledge Network, concentrating on several developing countries affected by climate-related disasters that may be intensified by human influence.

"The humanitarian logic of the attribution effort is that the better that can be understood, the better it can be planned for," said Dr Maarten van Aalst, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.

Findings from an attribution science case study focused on Turkana, Marsabit, Kwale, Kilifi, Mombasa and Lamu indicated that the signal from human induced climate change is not strong.

"It is also evident that hotter temperatures than normal were experienced during his time, and this is likely influenced by climate change. The two factors together led to the current, ongoing drought in the country," said the experts.

Consequently, the experts deliberated that hotter temperatures experienced are consistent with what is expected to happen in the future in the country due to climate change.

The drought has affected over three million Kenyans who are facing the risk of starvation and the number is expected to rise according to the experts.

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