By Linah Musangi
Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, PACJA,has launched a countywide campaign to have County Government integrate climate change matters into County Integrated Development Plan, CIDP.
In partnership with CARITAS Kitui, PACJA held a three-day stakeholders scenario workshop last week at Park Side Villa Motel at Kitui town where the main objective was to draft climate change advisory for Kitui County.
The workshop brought together stakeholders from the Kitui County Meteorological Department,Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, CSos, Indigenous Traditional Weather Fotecasters and the media.
PACJA intents to collect weather and climate information about Kitui County from the government meteorological department based at Kitui town,the local residents observations,Large Scale Farming Practitioners, Agricultural Research Institutes and the Learning Institutions.
The weather information collected shall then be used in derivation of climate change and thereafter the information shall be contextualized, analysed, translated for the practical use then finally be applied in various situations within the county.
PACJA’s objective is to have Participatory Scenario Planning(PSP) as an activity incorporated in County CIDP instead of waiting for funding by the donors.PSP is aimed at documentation of observations, data analysis of past and future forecasts of county weather characters.
Climate change is purely anthropogenic and the County Government of Kitui has a responsibility to integrate climate change coping strategies to its CIDP.However, the meteorological department complained that it’s understaffed.With only three government employees, the department is forced to almost always depend on unpaid volunteers alongside having insufficient budget allocation of 20,000 annually.
There is only one synoptic weather station in the county compared to the wide region it covers.This makes it difficult for the weather department to scale down weather forecasts to reach the Ward levels hence increasing the error of weather prediction and forecasting margin to about 75%.
“This is sadly a key factor to blame for the failure of Ndengu Project,” Mr peter Ndegwa, the County Meteorological Department Director revealed during his presentation at the workshop.
According to recent research organized in Kitui County by CARITAS Kitui which was conducted by Savanna Consultancy and Research Limited on the county Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) , the frequency of droughts has increased from a circle of once every 5 years to almost yearly basis.
Subsequently, farmers are becoming more unable to respond to local food policy needs due to the mushrooming population in the county. Climate change has caused loss of biodiversity,reduction of tree cover acreage, frequent prolonged droughts and famines and the April-June long rains is nolonger received in some parts of the vast Kitui County hence the occurrence of long periods of prolonged drought and famine.