Kenya digs in for funds to fight climate change risks
Kenya will join other African nations in demanding that the industrialised world pays for damages of climate change caused by decades of heavy carbon emissions.
It will team up with the developing world in seeking financial compensation for bearing the greatest burden of climate change President Kibaki said, setting the tone for the delegation that will represent Kenya in the UN-sponsored climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.
Poor nations have been piling pressure on their industrialized counterparts to cut back on carbon emissions or compensate them for bearing the brunt of the resultant climatic change that is linked to the environmental pollution.
That pressure yielded initial fruits early this year when Britain announced it will spend one billion euros in helping poor countries deal with the effects of climatic change.
The money is to be disbursed by global financial institutions such as the World Bank.
The richest countries currently account for 75 per cent of total global carbon emissions resulting from industrial activities, according to the UN.
Pressure has been mounting on the US and other industrialised countries to come up with firm targets and commitments to reduce carbon emissions and to work for the signing of a new climate change treaty in Copenhagen.
Mr Kibaki however urged Kenyans to adapt to the realities of climatic changes that have brought about drought.
“At the local level, it is important that we seize this opportunity posed by climate change to adapt our livelihoods and the economy to the new reality,” he said.
Environmentalists say that reality is expected to make it very difficult for millions of Africans to live from subsistence farming or livestock keeping.
In Kenya for instance, 80 per cent of the country is expected to become drier and 20 per cent wet in the coming years due to changes in weather patterns.
In recent months, changes in climatic conditions have been blamed for prolonged drought that has left more than 10 million people starving and wiped out nearly one third of the country’s livestock.
Mr Kibaki, who addressed the 46th Kenyatta Day celebrations at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, said the government will use the current rains to expand food production through distribution of subsidized seeds and fertilizers to farmers.
Use of subsidized farm inputs should see Kenya become self-sufficient in food within the next two years, the President said, adding that the government had imported enough fertilisers to be sold at Sh2,000 per 50 kg bag.
“With the onset of short rains, we are confident that there will be enough food for all at affordable prices next year. We will continue in our efforts to ensure that we do not experience such food crisis again in the future,” he said.
Kenya is also struggling to revive its economy that grew by a paltry 1.7 per cent last year, slowing the pace of employment creation and poverty reduction.
Such goals, Mr Kibaki said, cannot be realized without careful use of the national resources and consolidation of the war on corruption.
“The war against corruption and waste is far from won. The Government wants more effective investigations and prosecutions involving corruption. This will help regain and retain public confidence in public institutions,” he said.
The President revisited the long drawn-out subject of reform promising a new constitution, whose enactment next year he said would be the first step towards the birth of a new Kenya.
He called upon Kenyans to support the process.
A committee of experts is currently harmonizing the contentious issues emanating from the 2005 failed attempt to adopt a new constitution.
The country has also put in place an interim Independent constitutional dispute resolution court to handle disagreements arising from the review process.
“Those charged with the responsibility of drafting a new Constitution must know that Kenyans desire a Constitution that satisfies and reflects a broad national consensus. That is a Constitution that represents the aspirations of the majority of Kenyans and one that can withstand the test of time,” he said.
In recent weeks, the review process has been embroiled in fresh controversy after religious leaders differed over the inclusion of Kadhi’s court in the draft constitution.
The president said the interim independent electoral commission, which was put in place after the Electoral commission of Kenya was disbanded, had started preparing a new voters role in readiness for a referendum on the new constitution.
“I am hopeful that the new constitution will provide for the establishment of a new electoral body that will have the competence and integrity required to win public confidence for generations to come” said the president.