Africa facing climate impact 'nightmare': Kenyan President

The worst drought in 40 years is gripping Kenya and the wider Horn of Africa region, threatening millions with starvation

November 08, 2022 04:07 am | Updated 03:33 pm IST - Sharm el Sheikh

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (right) meets with President William Ruto of Kenya during the Cop27 summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (right) meets with President William Ruto of Kenya during the Cop27 summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The crushing impacts of climate change are already a "living nightmare" for people across Africa, Kenyan President William Ruto told world leaders at U.N. talks on Monday.

The U.N. climate Conference of the Parties talks in Egypt billed as the "African COP", are set to be dominated by calls from developing countries that rich polluters pay for the harm their emissions have already caused, known as "loss and damage".

"Africa contributes less than three percent of the pollution responsible for climate change, but it's most severely impacted by the ensuing crisis," Mr. Ruto said.

The worst drought in 40 years is gripping Kenya and the wider Horn of Africa region, threatening millions with starvation -- with the U.N. warning Somalia is on the brink of a famine for the second time in just over a decade.

Some 2.5 million livestock have died in Kenya this year alone, Mr. Ruto said, causing economic losses of more than $1.5 billion.

Poorer countries successfully fought to have the issue of loss and damage officially put on the COP27 agenda -- despite reluctance over the issue from richer nations, wary of open-ended compensation for the damage caused by climate-induced natural disasters.

But observers caution that this is only a first step towards what developing nations hope will be a specific fund to help with climate impacts.

"Loss and damage are not an abstract topic of endless dialogue," Mr. Ruto said, speaking on behalf of the Africa negotiating group.

"It is our daily experience and the living nightmare for millions of Kenyans, and hundreds of millions of Africans."

He said the country had had to reallocate funds budgeted for education and health for an emergency food relief programme for 4.3 million Kenyans, adding that "climate change is directly threatening our people's lives, health and future".

Wildlife has not been spared in the country rich with biodiversity.

"Carcasses of elephants, zebras, wildebeest, and much other wild fauna litter our parks," he said, adding the government has spent $3 million on supplying feed and water to animals in distress in the last three months.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in February warned that tens of millions of Africans face a future marked by drought, disease and displacement due to global heating.

Wealthy nations have failed to provide a pledged $100 billion a year from 2020 to developing nations to help them build resilience and green their economies, reaching just $83 billion according to the U.N.

This is a "major cause for persisting distrust", Mr. Ruto said.

But he stressed that the continent presented huge economic opportunities and a chance to curb emissions and announced an African summit focusing on climate action next year.

"Africa's vast tracts of land, deep treasures of diverse natural resources, tremendous untapped renewable energy potential, and a youthful, dynamic, and skilled workforce. constitute the continent's irresistible credentials," he said.

Top News Today

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.