Governors draft Bill to address effects of climate change

If enacted into law, the Bill authored by the committee chair Wilber Ottichilo (Vihiga) will see blue gum trees near river banks, wetlands and land boundaries uprooted because they contribute to environmental degradation.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi has welcomed the Bill saying it will help restore and preserve water catchment areas and water sources across the country.

CoG plans to table the Bill in the 47 county assemblies.

On Saturday, Dr Ottichilo led a delegation of Vihiga county leadership in a meeting with Mudavadi at the latter's Mululu rural home in Sabatia constituency where matters of environment and effects of climate change were discussed.

During the meeting, the governor was categorical that he will not back down on his directive for locals to uproot blue gum trees and plant environment-friendly tree species.

The county chief said sand harvesting will not be allowed in Vihiga and other counties once ward representatives across the counties pass the Bill into law.

"I have already drafted the Bill that will be tabled in the 47 county assemblies soon for their approval, the Bill stipulates guidelines on how to conserve the environment and bars residents from planting eucalyptus trees near water and natural resources, homestead and harvesting of sand," said Ottichilo.

"It will be a painful decision but I am urging my residents to cooperate and support this initiative because the effects of climate change will destroy and wipe out the human population if we fail to act now," he added.

The governor urged Mudavadi to coordinate and champion the issue of climate change by anchoring it in the Kenya Kwanza policies.

"It is just a matter of time and if we do not address these issues, we will be courting disaster and that is why I have instructed my administration and members of the county assembly to include climate change in every programme, we are witnessing water scarcity because the catchment areas have started drying up," said Ottichillo.

He said Vihiga county is ready to lead the way in addressing climate change by uprooting eucalyptus, banning sand harvesting, and giving residents environment-friendly tree species like bamboo to plant.

"Eucalyptus is a good tree and it is a commercial tree that grows very fast but it has been planted everywhere making our rivers dry, and we are going to make the hard decision of having the trees uprooted and replacing them with natural trees including bamboo in order to restore our natural resources," said Ottichilo.

"I have been seeing our sisters and mothers wake up very early in the morning to fetch water which has become scarce and that is why we must protect our water sources," he added.

Mudavadi urged county assemblies to take the Bill seriously. He said Five million people in Kenya are facing a serious threat from the effects of drought occasioned by effects of climate change.

" I will be at the forefront in ensuring we address climate change because as a country we are losing people and livestock to drought and many are facing hunger," he said.

"In the region, close to 60 million people are facing the worst and serious drought, the crisis is real and we must deal with it and that is why as a government we are taking this issue with the seriousness it deserves."

"We must anchor all these plans and measures in law in consultation with our residents and as a national government we shall support whatever efforts geared towards addressing climate change," said Mudavadi.