The top 3 impacts of worldwide climate change that are likely to affect Kwale County?
Climate change has become an inevitable reality globally. Countries all over the world are experiencing the increasing drastic effects of climate change. The rising temperatures and irregular rainfall and ice patterns are some of the signs of climate change which has resulted in extreme and wilder weather events such as prolonged droughts and floods. According to World Bank, the last two decades have recorded six years with the warmest temperatures and irregular rainfall patterns in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Extreme climatic events such as drought and floods have doubled in the region in the last quarter of the century with countries like Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Madagascar likely to experience even worse climatic events (World Bank, 2015).
Our Kwale County is experiencing the effects of climate change just like other regions in the world. The most recent Housing and Population Census conducted in 2019 showed that Kwale County had a population of 866,820. The population’s livelihood, distribution and employment factors are highly determined by the agro-ecological and topography factors. 85.4% of this population live in rural areas.
Agriculture is the major source of livelihood in the county. The majority of our county’s residents earn their livelihood from agriculture where they are involved in livestock farming, crop farming and fisheries. The non-agricultural livelihoods are mostly concentrated in the urban areas of the county although some of the households still earn part of their income from agricultural activities (MoALF, 2016).
With the increasing climate change impacts globally, the three top impacts that we are likely to face our Kwale County include; decline in agricultural productivity, food insecurity and vulnerability of water resources.
TOP 1 IMPACT: Decline in agricultural activities
Agriculture is the main economic activity in our County where residents are involved in various economic activities such as livestock farming, crop production, forestry and fish farming. Agricultural activities are however very sensitive to climate change and variability as agriculture is dependent on the climatic weather conditions.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), some of the important factors that directly connects climate change and agriculture include average temperature rise (an increase in the average temperature ultimately lengthens the growing seasons in regions with cool spring and fall ). This also affects adversely crop growing in regions where summer heat already limits production. The increased temperature also increases the rate of soil evaporation. It also leads to prolonged droughts which reduces crop yields and production.
With the increasing global impacts of climate change, our County is likely to experience a decline in agricultural production. With unpredictable weather patterns such as prolonged drought, flooding and unpredictable rainfall patterns, the agricultural produce is likely to decline which implicates loss of livelihood, and food shortage among other crises.
TOP 2 IMPACT: Food insecurity
Food security is a ‘situation when all people in Kwale have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Climate change is affecting all the aspects of food security in Africa which includes the availability of food, stability of food systems, food utilization and accessibility. The change of weather patterns due to climate change are the main contributors of food insecurity.
Change in agro-ecological conditions leads to decreased food production thus affecting food availability. Unpredictable weather patterns will make it hard for farmers to know when it’s the right time to plant their crops which in the long run will lead to the decline of food production in the Kwale county.
Food accessibility will also be a concern due to the loss of livelihoods as a result of decreased yields. A decrease in food production due to climate change will lead to an increase in food prices thus inaccessible to many residents. Flooding as a result of climate change will also lead to the destruction of infrastructures such as roads, bridges and other infrastructure thus affecting food distribution as the destruction affects the functionality of the market (Thompson & Ford, 2010).
On the aspect of food utilization, climate change will bring about a series of concerns. For instance, we are likely to experience floods, a situation that will cause waterborne diseases and hunger. These are disasters are likely to affect our county residents making them susceptible to diseases.
Food insecurity is hence a very drastic impact of climate change that may cause severe consequences in our county.
TOP 3 IMPACT: Decline of water resources
Our kwale county is rich in water resources. Water resources are however very vulnerable to climate change. Climate projections provide that the water resources are at risk of being highly impacted by climate change whose effects extends to human and the ecosystem.
We are likely to experience increased temperature that will cause water scarcity and also pollute fresh water with salts, pathogens, nutrients and sediments. Drought as a result of climate change will also cause water shortages in our county. All these situations will cause scarcity of water for irrigation, domestic and industrial use. It will also affect fishing practices which is one of the economic activities in our County. The increasing high temperatures may also degrade the quality of water by altering its biochemical processes and reducing the dissolved oxygen concentration in the water.
Water resources have been depleting over the years and the situation is projected to worsen with the increasing impacts of global climate change (Kanae, 2009). The decrease of water resources will affect the availability of water for both domestic and industrial use. This will in turn lead to the loss of livelihoods of the people in our County.
With the increasing impacts of climate change globally, our Kwale County is at risk of experiencing the catastrophic effects of climate change.
Projections continue to affirm that our county will face drastic impacts of climate change. We, therefore, need to be more vibrant in the fight against climate change. Climate change is mainly driven by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas which in turn increases the global warming and other effects of climate change.
We should therefore be at the forefront to take part and try to stop the growing effects of climate change in every way possible at our capacity.