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The place of water in climate crisis and action

Effects of climate change have caused nations to readjust budgets. [iStockphoto]

Have you ever been so helpless you wondered if your God was alive or just on leave?

Many a Kenyan find themselves in this situation year in and out courtesy of extreme drought or flooding, crop failure or diseases, and at worst, conflict over scarce natural resources. 

Farmers are unable to plant in time because the rain patterns have been disrupted, now they are unpredictable. Even when it rains, sometimes it is inadequate.

Wild animals die in parks or raid homes because it is too dry at their habitats, yet they need food and water.

Displacement happens during dry seasons or when it floods, and sometimes people clash over scarce watering points or grazing land. The case of Laikipia last year is unforgettable.

A rattled nature always retaliates, sometimes trampling on human dignity, even in death. Families that lived in homes have suddenly had to squeeze in tents that get too hot when it shines and cold at night.

Flood victims in Budalang’i and Nyando are in camps since 2020. When these same people lose their loved ones, they have suffered as they cannot even bury their own where they would prefer.

The sight of naked or half-naked children or adults has been normalised in some areas where choice between buying food or clothes is not debatable.

When food and nutrition is a luxury in a Marsabit or Turkana home, then even eating adequate balanced diet a day is a pipe dream. Malnutrition is likely. Diseases never leave. Stunted growth for children is unavoidable.

In some cases, stress sets in.

When girls in places such as Kilifi have to be married off to perceived rich men to help raise them as the minors’ families get some money in return, it is the height of desperation.

This increases cases of teenage pregnancies, but parents involved, despite the law being clear, can always defend themselves.

Some girls living in camps, without money to buy food, inner wear or sanitary towels, are susceptible to predators. Even boys are abused.

Snake and insect bites, or malaria are common during flooding. When it is so dry, respiratory diseases increase because of dust. Others with pre-existing conditions, some terminal, may not access drugs when displaced. Women on family planning suffer the same.

Flooding destroys property, and money has to be spent to rebuild, or even buy land and relocate. Certain insects, birds, plants and animals die as a result of prolonged drought or flooding, even in oceans, yet they are crucial components of the ecosystem. 

Effects of climate change have caused nations to readjust budgets to accommodate resilience, but also created avenues for corrupt individuals.

In all these problems, water is the common denominator. Water is key to productive agriculture, ending hunger, poverty and malnutrition.

But its scarcity or too much of it has been detrimental, but reversible with proper actions.

Sustainable use - preventing pollution or wastage, protecting water towers and minimising emissions to reduce our carbon footprint and manage global warming, are therefore key for survival. 

Once water is given the attention it deserves by individuals and organisations, funds used to address prolonged climate-induced water stresses can go to development and strengthen the economy.