Nomadic pastoralists Turkana tribesmen herd goats and sheep to an almost dry dam on the outskirts of Gakong, in northwestern Kenya. Stephen Morrison / EPA

By Clar Ni Chonghaile, www.guardian.co.uk
25 May 2012

NAIROBI – Even as drought persists in parts of Kenya's arid north, intense rains are claiming lives in other parts of the country – flooding slums in the capital Nairobi, sweeping away hikers in the Rift Valley, and destroying crops.

Many Kenyans shake their heads in dismay at the increasingly extreme and volatile weather, which is costing money as well as lives in east Africa's economic powerhouse.

Wilbur Ottichilo, an environmental scientist and member of parliament, wants to equip Kenya to deal with these extremes. He has drafted a bill to set up an independent Climate Change Authority to advise on adapting to global warming and cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

He describes the move as a landmark for the continent – Nigeria is the only other African country to have approved a bill to set up a similar body. But President Goodluck Jonathan has not yet signed the bill into law.

Ottichilo's bill is ready for debate and he is confident it will go before parliament soon. He says more than 100 MPs, out of 222, have already expressed support.

"The [Climate Change] authority will coordinate all climate change activities in the country because climate change cuts across all sectors," Ottichilo told the Guardian.

It will establish a national registry for energy and carbon emissions reporting by public and private entities, and set targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Anyone found guilty of committing an offence – such as failing to comply with targets – could be fined up to two million shillings (£15,000) or jailed for up to five years, or both.

The authority will also be able to draw up incentives to promote renewable energy sources.

Ottichilo says action is urgent, citing the heavy seasonal rains that have pounded the country for several weeks after starting late in mid-April instead of mid-March.

"Instead of having uniform, long distribution, it has come in a short block of intense rains so this is going to have a major impact on food security," Ottichilo said

Crops will not have matured when the rains end, and shortages may really bite when the dry season returns, bringing drought to some areas. […]

"For us, climate change is not an abstract academic study. It is a day-to-day, bread-and-butter question," said Professor Patricia Kameri-Mbote, an environmental lawyer and chairperson of the advisory board at Strathmore Law School in Nairobi. She advised Ottichilo on the bill. […]

Kenya's bid to become the first African nation to set up a climate authority

2 comments :

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