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Kenya rallies against climate change mess

 Austin Onyango (left) outside Odenya Mixed Day Secondary School at Pombo in Nyando where the village was submerged by water from the overflow of Lake Victoria. [Michael Mute, Standard]

In response to the escalating climatic shocks that have besieged Kenya in recent years, the government has announced a substantial allocation of Sh5.9 billion to combat climate change.

This move underscores the nation’s recognition of the urgent need to address environmental challenges, particularly in the face of extreme shocks like droughts and floods.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u said climate change emerged as a primary concern, reflecting Kenya’s vulnerability to its devastating impacts.

The recent flooding between March and May 2024 serves as a stark reminder of these risks, with heavy rains causing widespread damage across the country.

Reports indicate significant casualties, displacements and infrastructure damage, including schools and health facilities.

Grim picture

The statistics paint a grim picture of the toll exacted by the floods. In Nairobi county alone, over 250,000 people were affected, with thousands displaced from their homes.

Tragically, more than 200 lives were lost, and hundreds of thousands were displaced nationwide, underscoring the severity of the crisis.

The impact on education was particularly poignant, with Save the Children reporting that over 15,000 children were left without access to schooling due to flood damage.

Furthermore, concerns were raised about the safety of school environments, with fears of waterborne diseases looming large.

In addition to the current allocation, the government has already invested over Sh10 billion in mitigating El-Niño floods in the current financial year. This demonstrates a concerted effort to address immediate challenges while laying the groundwork for long-term resilience.

A breakdown of the allocations reveals a comprehensive approach to environmental protection and climate action.

Significant funds have been earmarked for expanding access to clean water, conserving forests, managing wildlife, and bolstering meteorological services. 

Notably, the introduction of the Eco Levy on hazardous products reflects a commitment to sustainable consumption practices and environmental stewardship.

“The high production and importation of hazardous goods, particularly electrical and electronic devices, into the country has led to a significant increase in electronic waste (e-waste) in Kenya. This surge in waste production poses a risk to both the environment and human health. I propose to introduce Eco-Levy on various products to be payable in line with the Polluter Pays Principle. The levy will be imposed under the Miscellaneous Fees and Levies,” said the CS.

However, amidst these efforts, the government faces daunting challenges. Severe cutbacks in developmental projects allocations highlight the struggle to balance budgetary constraints with pressing needs.

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