Africa is one of the Continents which most severely impacted by climate change and extremely vulnerable to climate variability due to its low adaptive capacity, the CS Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has said. Although Africa has in the recent past made progress, development of emerging challenges such as climate change and desertification, natural resource degradation still continues to negatively impact the continent.
Wakhungu said this when she officially opened the first Regional Forum on African Initiative for Combating Desertification and strengthening Resilience to Climate Change in the Horn of Africa, held at the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) headquarters in Nairobi.
CS said that the Forum is a reaffirmation of African people’s commitment to turning climate change and other environmental challenges into opportunities because the current negative trends in land and forest degradation are not able to guarantee food and water security, generate viable income and cope with the impacts of climate change and desertification.
The Forum was a follow up of two previous events on Preparatory Meeting of TICAD VI Side Event on African Initiative for Combating Desertification and the Launch of the African Initiative during the TICAD VI Summit which was held in August 2016 in Nairobi. This was the first time the Forum was being hosted on the African soil since its inception in 1993, she added.
The CS said that this meeting has come at a time when Kenya is experiencing drought due to depressed rains which were expected at the end of last year. To reverse these negative trends, the CS noted that Kenya had put in place robust measures which included sustainable afforestation and reforestation, encouraging agroforestry and reducing greenhouse gases by restoring the country’s forest cover to at least 10% by the year 2020.
In achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Wakhungu said, the country should adopt an integrated landscape approach of embracing urgent and collaborative action to restore, protect and sustainably manage our forestry resources, woodlands and agricultural landscape.
On her part, he Principal Secretary Dr. Margaret Mwakima who accompanied the CS, thanked development partners and in particular JICA for their timely vision and consistency in supporting environment and development initiatives within the dry land ecosystems and particularly the African Initiative.
“Evidently, climate change is real. Therefore, combating desertification to strengthen resilience to climate change is key and inevitable in the Sahel and Horn of Africa.” The PS added.
The Forum brought together delegates from seven African Countries namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somali, South Sudan, Sudan and Kenya. It is also being attended by delegates from Japan which is a development partner and the Sahel Region who are involved in natural resource management for the benefit of communities.