BWIRE: Let’s listen to weather experts to minimise disasters

BWIRE: Let’s listen to weather experts to minimise disasters

By Victor Bwire

The adverse weather conditions including the devastating floods being witnessed across the country including in West Pokot where lives have been lost and property destroyed, while inevitable, points to the state of disaster preparedness in the country.

And the Kenya Meteorological Department in its latest weather report indicates prolonged rainfall in most parts of the such disasters, many linked to climate change destabilise the economic base of such places which are largely driven by Agriculture, thus causing untold suffering because of hunger, diseases and collapse of the economic base.

The adverse weather conditions are not confined to Kenya as a number of countries are going through the same; the difference will only be in the manner of response. The people of West Pokot and the rest of the country going such ravages of adverse weather need help urgently.

Such warnings from the weather people must be responded to by way of establishing an emergency plan including livestock diseases and feeding, farming and seed planting, storage facilities, emergency medical supplies, and overall disaster management system and rapid response to risks/outbreaks must be streamlined and activated including resources as a cautionary measure.

The accelerated effects of climate change including prolonged floods are taking a toll on the economies of people in the Great Horn of Africa, and calls for urgent measures to address these disasters and strategic interventions of mitigating the risks.

While a lot has been done by both our national government and the counties in terms of preparing for such like disasters, more forwarding looking and multi sectoral approaches are required urgently, not only to save in people residing in disaster prone areas, but more importantly reduce the negative impact of such.

As already seen from most parts of the country, such weather conditions have seen the loss of lives in West Pokot county, destruction of several roads thus paralyzing the transport sector and by extension access by rescue teams, the floods have devastated villages, destruction of health facilities and contaminated water resources, which increase chances of disease outbreaks.

That’s why its important that the national Disaster policy and the county disaster policies are strengthened, funded properly and made to supplement each during such emergencies. I am sure the Climate Change Act 2016 has also provisions for dealing with mitigating effects of climate change in affected areas, and the relevance must be shown during such periods.

All along, the weather people’s reports have been made to help the relevant authorities to work on establishing efficient disaster and risk reduction ahead of the wet seasons as in their regions and related. Budalangi has now for a number of years been saved from the flood savages through early warning messages broadcast through BulalaFM, a local community radio station to move to higher and safer grounds.

Experts have previously cautioned that traditional strategies adopted by pastoral and farming households to cope with the shocks of climate change have proved ineffective over time as the threats posed drought increased both in terms of the rate of recurrence and the stretch of locations affected. Interventions such as a food and cash transfers are expensive and mainly unreliable because of the region’s high reliance on support from the already stretched international relief community.
Recently, in a regional meeting in Addis Ababa discussing a regional policy on disaster formulation strategies, the experts extensively discussed the possibility of establishing mechanisms for mitigation including the Index-based livestock insurance, which is a proven mechanism to help farmers build that resilience.

Unlike traditional insurance policies, which pay out against established losses, index-based livestock insurance relies on satellite-based indicators. It is designed to trigger timely indemnity pay-outs to insured pastoralists and agro-pastoralists before adverse weather conditions become very severe—enabling them to purchase fodder, food, feed supplements, water and vaccines to keep their herds alive until grazing conditions get return to normal.

Such insurance products have been commercially sold in Kenya since 2010 by various insurance firms with support by the International Livestock and Research Institute (ILRI) and its academic and development partners and were scaled-up in Kenya in 2015 through a Stated-led Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) with support from ILRI and the World Bank.

The scheme — Kenya Livestock Insurance Programme (KLIP) — currently covers eight counties and about 20,000 households.

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