Kenya has launched a $34 million project aimed at easing the impact that climate change has had in the arid regions of the country.
According to Reuters, the five-year project, which is backed by the Green Climate Fund, aims to restore 500,000 hectares of rangeland while also assisting 620,000 people living in dryland areas in 11 of the country’s counties.
Keriako Tobiko, Kenya’s minister for environment and forestry, explained that these counties make up 80% of Kenya’s land mass and are the most affected by climate change.
"These areas and communities living in these areas are most vulnerable; pastoral communities, nomadic communities, and really this programme helps to address the most deserving of cases," he said at a press briefing to mark the project’s launch on Wednesday.
The project could not have come at a better time as it is predicted that Kenya, among other East African countries, will face a serious drought this year as a result of the La Niña weather cycle — which affects the climate in Kenya around every five years. This predicted drought could potentially affect millions of people and threatens to cause a rise in food insecurity.
Kenya’s last serious drought took place in 2017 and impacted over 2.7 million people, leaving citizens displaced and causing a hunger crisis. At the time the country depended on humanitarian aid in order to help alleviate the issue, and today it is still recovering from the impacts of that drought period.
According to a 2018 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics study, the country loses about 2.0 – 2.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) every year due to effects of climate change. The study also found that droughts cost Kenya 8% of GDP every five years.
The launch of this project could help to alleviate the social and economic impacts that climate change has had on the country.