Climate change impacts in Kenya.
Did you know that 262 million people were affected by climate disasters in 2004,more than 98 percentage of them in the developing countries. 30 million more people are likely to go hungry because of decline of agricultural produce!
Climate is the mean condition of the atmosphere in terms of elements such as solar radiation, temperature, pressure, precipitation, humidity, and wind and their variations at a given locality over a long time span. It results from radiative energy exchange between the sun, earth and space. Many of these interactions take place near the service, between the atmosphere, oceans, solid earth, snow and ice fields.
Climate change, as viewed by climatology, is any permanent change or shift in the traditional patterns of climate.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY.
Energy demand is generally dependent on climate conditions and on social-economic factors. Current research shows that rising temperature will result in decrease in energy demand in temperate regions.
In Kenya where high temperatures are experienced throughout the year, global warming is unlikely to lead to reduction in energy use. Instead, there will be increased energy demand, particularly in the major towns and urban areas for refrigeration and air conditioning.
Since 1980, there has been increased demand for energy in the country. This trend is likely to increase even under normal conditions due to;
• Increased construction of commercial and residential premises fitted with electric water heating systems, air-conditioning, lighting and energy cooking appliances.
• Construction of industries whose working is based on high energy consumption.
• Increased use of electrical appliances countrywide particularly with the expansion of electricity supply to rural areas under the Rural Electrification programme.
• Expansion of urban centers.
Kenya has established a National Environmental Act Plan to formulate policy guidelines and prepare development and management plans including environmental legislation. The proposed legislation bill should consider the following;
• Review land use legislation to provide for land use zones and protection of water catchment areas and fragile ecosystems and reduction of land use conflicts.
• Promote energy conservation in domestic, transport, industrial and agricultural sectors.
• Promote use of renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power.
• Give priority to conservation of undamaged resources, especially forests, wetlands, biodiversity and soils.
• Institutionalizing the process of environmental impacts assessment and monitoring of public and private projects and programmmes.
• Review and update penalties for environmental crimes in order to make them effective against environmental abuse.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER RESOURCES.
Increased temperature due to global warming would result in a high rate of transpiration leading to a increased water loss from open water bodies such as lakes, reservoirs, pans and wetlands. Changes in rainfall will most importantly affect soil moisture, reservoir storage, lake water levels, ground water balance, run-off, river flow, erosion, water quality, irrigation demands and rain fed agriculture among other areas. The low lying ASAL areas in the north, eastern and southern Kenya are constrained by water availability hence increased temperature without corresponding increase in rainfall could lead to reduced river flow.
Sea level rise will result in inundation and displacement of coastal wetlands, erosion of shorelines, increased salinity of estuaries and saline water intrusion into coastal aquifers (IPCC 1990a)
Determination of flexibility and venerability of current water supply systems to climate change.
Water conservation measures.
Demand management through pricing.
Integrated river basin management programmes.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND FORESTS
Increased temperature will alter other factors determining vegetation type and vigor. It is unlikely that higher temperatures will be directly deleterious to tropical forest communities. In the humid tropical forests like Kakamega and Nandi forests, high temperatures are modulated by cloud cover. Therefore the impacts of high temperatures may not be very crucial in these forests. However, changes in the seasonality of rainfall may have noticeable effects on these forests.
Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases and accompanying climate change are likely to disrupt natural communities and extinction of population and species in a large scale. For species to survive, they must be able to shift in unison with their ranges or adapt to new ranges. For plants, excessive heat and associated decreases in soil moisture may decrease survival and reproduction. The altitudinal limits of many plants are determined by minimum temperature isotherms below which some key physiological processes do not occur.
Climatic change affects biodiversity in the forests. It may also alter ecological interactions in the forests. For example, decreased soil moisture (due to increased evapo-transpiration) could reduce vigor and competitive capabilities of existing plant species and could allow more aggressive and less moisture dependent plants to move in. This may be more so when climate change is supportive of less dominant species and the dominant species is unable to oppose the immigration of more competitive species.
Conserve and enlarge conservation areas where species most at risk are found.
Rehabilitation of degraded and depleted forests.
To further strengthen the conservation efforts. On-farm forests must be enhanced so as to avoid over exploitation of forests.
Intensify agro-forestry systems.
Enhance and enact government policies.
EFFECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON AGRICULTURE
Agriculture depends on precipitation, temperature, and moisture availability. In temperate lands and high altitude areas, temperature is generally the dominant climatic control on animals and plant growth. It usually determines the potential length of the growing and grazing periods.
Global warming is likely to extend the growing periods in temperate lands. High temperature in the absence of adequate moisture accelerates growth and developments of plants.