CHIESA Holds 3rd Annual Project Meeting

The CHIESA Project successfully held its 3rd Annual meeting at the icipe Duduville Campus in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 March, 2014. The two-day event brought together ministries, research organizations, NGOs, CBOs and other stakeholders with a tremendous amount of expertise and knowledge on climate, food security and development issues in East Africa and around the world. The meeting’s theme was climate change adaptation.

In his welcome remarks, Dr. Tino Johansson, the CHIESA Project Coordinator, stressed the importance of information sharing and its role in climate adaptation. “One of the main goals of the project is to ensure that the public and private sectors are adequately informed and have enhanced capacity for adaptation to climate change,” he said, adding, “We work closely with different local, national and regional stakeholder organizations to meet the objective of filling gaps in knowledge on the impacts of climate variability and change as well as land-use and land-cover change on sensitive and unique montane ecosystems, their services and food security.”

In a statement read on her behalf by Mr. Willis Awori (icipe HR Manager), icipe Director General, Dr. Kelemu Segenet, expressed confidence in CHIESA’s progress towards addressing knowledge gaps on climate change, food security and livelihoods. She said, “Hundreds of farmers within the three research areas in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia have already participated in project activities, a trend that will grow towards the end of the project when community-based action plans for climate change adaptation are developed.”

Meeting Group Pic

The first key-note address came courtesy of Finnish ambassador to Kenya, Hon. Sofie From-Emmesberger, who outlined Finland’s Development Policy and how it’s being applied in Kenya.

Amb Sofie“Finland recognizes that vulnerability to impacts of climate variability and climate change are most felt by the poor in developing countries. In its own development cooperation therefore, Finland aims to, as much as feasible, achieve carbon neutrality. It is also keen on strategic climate impacts assessment, to ensure that the impacts of development cooperation on climate are assessed comprehensively,” Ambassador Emmesberger stated, adding, “Strengthening the capacity of developing countries’ own administrations to prepare for natural disasters and investing in the disaster risk reduction is a necessity.”

 

With climate change rated highly in its development agenda, the Finnish government acknowledges climate sustainability as one of its three critical cross-cutting objectives, the others being gender equality and reduction of inequality. Great strides have been made, particularly in identifying opportunities for increasing prominence of climate change and vulnerability discourse, such as:

 

1.The Kenya Government, like other regional governments, being responsive in crafting harmonized means of addressing climate change. The 2010 National Climate Change Strategy was a milestone

 

2.The international community, including Finland, being keen to support national governments to address climate sustainability. As earlier indicated, Finland's country programme in Kenya is set to improve capacity of different stakeholders to prevent or reduce impacts of climate change

 

3.Many development partners supporting climate responsive initiatives in Kenya

 

4.Increasing awareness that vulnerability to impacts of climate change goes beyond exposure to natural hazards, to social-political life worlds of people. The need to improve communities' incomes, access to markets, infrastructure (roads, telecommunication, water supply) are now viewed as part and parcel of climate-resilient livelihoods

 

5.Kenya remains a continental leader in ICT innovations. Other developing countries are following suit. ICT innovations have opportunity to contribute to climate sustainability matters. Examples from Kenya already indicate positive progress with farmers taking on mobile-phone-based insurances against drought and diseases risk as well as receiving and exchanging weather and pasture information.

Dr Obora

Dr. Michael Obora, Assistant Director of Agriculture at Kenya’s State Department Of Agriculture and the meeting’s second keynote speaker, shared the country’s adaptation status is an address aptly titled ‘Climate Change and Food Security in Kenya from the Government of Kenya Perspective’.

He said, “Climate change can no longer be treated as just an environmental challenge. It is a holistic sustainable development challenge. In Kenya, climate change has impacted natural systems, physical and social infrastructure and key economic sectors.”

Commenting on climate change risk preparedness, Dr. Obora admitted that although Kenya’s infrastructure (including roads, bridges, railways, ports, buildings and dams) is built to acceptable risk limits based on the expected return periods of natural hazards, such as severe winds, heavy rainfall and storm surges, increasing frequency of severe weather events has breached these thresholds and caused severe damage to the infrastructure.

Dr. Obora further explained that climate change has also impacted Kenya’s key economic sectors, especially, agriculture, tourism, fisheries and forestry. Another worrying result of climate change is declining agricultural production due to, among others, variation in rainfall commencement dates, amounts, distribution and cessation; and reduced soil productivity through erosion. It has also caused loss of livelihood arising from loss of livestock, particularly in arid and semi arid land (ASAL) areas due to depletion of natural vegetation and pasture.

So what is the government doing about all this, you may ask? Dr. Obora responds, “The Government and stakeholders are implementing many interventions that have direct and/or indirect relevance to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The interventions cover a wide range of sectors including agriculture, water, energy and infrastructure. In agriculture, the interventions include promotion of irrigated agriculture, promotion of conservation agriculture and farm forestry, value addition to agricultural products, development of weather-indexed crop insurance schemes, support for community-based adaptation including provision of climate information to farmers, and enhanced financial and technical support to drought-tolerant crops.

True to the project’s capacity building objective, several training sessions were held at the same venue prior to the meeting, running on different dates from 17th to 22nd March, 2014. Courses offered included the ever successful ‘Integrated Water Resources Management’ and ‘Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Goods and Services’, and for the first time ‘Advanced Open Source GIS’ and ‘Vegetation from Space and from the Ground’. The courses were attended by a vibrant mix of students and professionals specializing or having a keen interest in the areas of training offered.

Ecosystem Valuation 2      Advanced GIS 2      VGS

Group shots from the training courses offered. From left, participants of ‘Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Goods and Services’, ‘Advanced Open Source GIS’ and ‘Vegetation from Space and from the Ground’.

Other activities were a students’ showcase, where scholars working in the CHIESA Project got a chance to present their research progress, and get feedback from supervisors, scientists and participants at the meeting. Speakers from various development, research and policy institutions also gave presentations.

To view presentation slides from the meeting, please click here. To view photos from the meeting, please click here.

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