Thursday, August 27, 2009

What Kyuso residents say about climate change.

By John Njue

Water is life, that is one fact that we can never over emphasize and both human beings and animals cannot survive without it. All the same, most arid and semi arid regions in Kenya continue to experience severe water shortages and as a result, there have been many assumptions as to what is causing the water shortages. To the people of Kyuso which is an arid and semi-arid area, they have attributed the changes in water levels and water shortages to climate change.

Climate change is as a result of many great factors including the internal variability in climate systems. Some of the human activities practiced in this area are threats to the climate and as a result lead to change in climate conditions and weather patterns. Tree cutting for charcoal burning is a major practice in this area. Kyuso district is located in Eastern province in Kenya; a distance of 60km from Mwingi town. Mwingi town is 238km from Nairobi city and one of the districts where there is severe reduction in indigenous trees.

The district covers a total area of 10030.30km2 with the population of 341571 citizens. The district is divided into four divisions namely Kyuso, Tseikuru, Ngomeni, and Mumoni.

The residents of all this divisions seem not to understand the effects of cutting trees and although efforts have been put by various Government ministries and Non-Governmental Organizations to enlighten them on the effects of deforestation, a number of them are still doing it. They sell the charcoal they burn and the 90kgs sack is sold at only 200 Kenya Shillings , this is very little money and as a result the locals are forced to burn more trees so as to get more charcoal and in return more money to sustain their families.

Effects of Climate change may not be realized very soon in Kyuso district if efforts are not put to enlighten the residents. Most of the residents are oblivious of the harm they are causing and most of them argue that the change in climate is as a result of natural causes that cannot be reversed and all they can do is let nature take its course.

The possible reason as to why the effects are not realized is that the current state of climate does not immediately reflect the input; it moves slowly and has a time tag in its reaction to the input. For example; years of dry conditions as experienced in Kyuso may do no more than cause the drought according to the residents. With effective capacity building and mobilization the resident will soon realize their contribution to climate change; it might be quite late and the harm will have already been done but as they say; it’s never too late.

The effects of climate can also be seen when you look keenly on the vegetation there is in our forests/bush. A change in type of the tree and vegetation that used to grow is an indicator that there is something changing .In the days of our forefathers the vegetation used to grow very thick and the trees would grow to their maximum height but now the vegetation has changed to scrubs, thicket and scanty trees. The distribution and coverage of vegetation occurs due to change of climate patterns which is much obvious.

To what extent the plant life changes, thrives and dies depends largely on the people’s contribution to curb this disaster of climate change. Tree planting as the ground cover may result in growth of other improved species due to micro-climate created by the trees. Tree cutting for non proper use may instead results to vegetation stress, rapid plant loss and desertification.

It is my urge and request to all climate change stake holders to approach the people of Kyuso district so that they may embrace change and conserve their forest. Tree planting should be encouraged and due to economic base of this area, the tree should be provided too. Embassies should be laid on the plantation of indigenous tree as opposed to exotic ones which requires a lot of water which is not available in this area.

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