Education sector has also suffered greatly from climate change effects

Pupils playing at Fudumula Primary School grounds in Ganze, Kilifi County. [Nehemiah Okwembah, Standard]

Like never before, Kenya has been adversely affected by climate change. We have seen families eat carcasses of animals that are not edible.

We have seen many families gather around a fire, cook and eat wild fruits just to stay alive. Pastoralists bear the brunt of climate change as thousands of herds of cattle die while they watch helplessly.

The questions we keep asking ourselves every year that such incidences occur are; what should be done to alleviate the effects of drought?

For how long should we keep lamentations over climate change and global warming? What can we do as a people to stop the recurrence of drought and food shortages?

Greenhouse gas emissions and humanity's destruction of the green cover are responsible for climate change. General effects of climate change include, but are not limited to; hotter temperatures, severe storms, increased drought, air warming, rising oceans, loss of species, food scarcity, health risks, poverty and displacements.

Climate change also adversely affects Education. Most affected areas have had their school programs either stopped or distracted.

Visible effects of climate change on education are; irregular school attendance by learners, school dropouts, distorted education calendar in the affected areas, early marriages, airborne diseases in affected areas (cholera etc), insecurity in the affected areas and displacement.

As of today, 29 out of the 47 counties are affected by drought as a result of climate change. This is 61.70 per cent of Kenya’s population in terms of ground cover. It, therefore, calls for immediate efforts to mitigate the vice.

We appreciate that the government is already supplying foodstuffs and medical facilities to the affected population. This, however, is not enough.

All Kenyans of goodwill must see to it that other than food donations, they take personal responsibility to ensure our country has reliable climate that can support crop and food production.

Harvesting and storing water for use during dry seasons, practising irrigation farming to alleviate hunger, planting trees in large numbers to attract rain and retain soil moisture, and supporting affected families by buying off their cattle so that they do not completely lose out if and when their animals died, mobilising food supplies and distributing to the affected areas as a stop-gap measure, sensitising affected communities on how to engage in sustainable, alternative farming practices are some of the activities we can do to help get over perennial effects of climate change in future.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers can and is ready to play a critical role in mobilising all the 24000 plus primary public schools to planting at least 100 trees each.

This will translate to 2.4 million seedlings. Quite a number, which is in line with the government initiative of encouraging tree planting across the country for the purpose of attracting rain and maintaining soil moisture.

The union also encourages harvesting and storing water across the entire nation using both primary and secondary schools building infrastructure; water that can be used by people, animals and also for irrigation.

The union wishes to call upon the Ministry of Education Science and Technology to entrench environmental studies at all levels, right from basic Education to the university level to inculcate love for environmental conservation.

This aspect of the curriculum used to be very active in learning systems in the past but it has since waned slowly.

Universities and other institutions of higher learning should be funded adequately by government and other partners to carry out research activities on the best alternative farming activities that can be applied in arid and semi-arid areas such that even with little rains, and probably irrigation systems; communities in these areas can sustain themselves.

Pastoralists must not only depend on natural vegetation to feed their animals; researchers must invent new ways of stocking food for animals since necessity is the mother if inventions.

The many animals that are dropping dead can be saved when there is water and food for them. This should be the responsibility of researchers since this has been done in other places and succeeded.

The nation must also put in place strict laws that regulate the use of greenhouse emissions that lead to global warming and any other pollutants that lead to undetectable weather conditions.

We are cognisant of the fact that there already exist laws that prohibit arbitrary felling of trees and encroachment on catchment areas, but we also know that these are some of the most abused laws since the enforcement officers use them to rob unsuspecting people.

The judiciary must exonerate itself from claims that it connives with rogue forestry officers to encourage the illegal felling of trees.

We have cried enough concerning the effects of climate change, the time to act is now. And in the inspirational words of America’s renowned writer and poet Maya Angelou, nothing will work unless you do it.

We shall succeed only if we put our words into action. Let us save our nation and the entire globe from the threats of climate change.