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As the world leaders, negotiators, experts, private sector and civil society conclude negotiations at the Glasgow Climate Change Conference (CoP26), the impacts of climate change continue to be felt across the globe, posing a monumental challenge. 
 
According to the CoP26 Presidency, striking a consensus is complex, and his team have no choice but to rise to the challenge and ensure commitments made by parties are realistic and measurable. From my perspective, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)promises/commitments to address climate change have been elusive for the past six years an,d solutions might come too late for millions of Kenyans.
 
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reveals that drought will occur every two years, sometimes every year, as climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity on droughts in the affected regions. Over 2.5 million people in 23 ASAL counties are affected by drought, and the number is expected to continue rising. 
 
In September 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the drought a national disaster in ten out of forty-seven counties. The President promised to set aside Ksh. 2 billion and instructed the Natthe ional treasury and the Ministry of Interior to spearhead government efforts to assist affected households, including water and relief distribution.
 
The drought has affected wildlife, causing them to migrate from their natural habitats into the community and private lands, searching for water and pasture fodder. The county, for the past two years, has experienced erratic and inadequate rains undermining crop growth and increased conflict between livestock and wildlife. Terrestrial herbivores are worst affected, including the grevy zebra and reticulated giraffes, all endangered species.
 
Most seasonal rivers have dried up, exposing pastoral communities to starvation, increased conflict between livestock and wildlife competing for scarce water and pasture fodder. 
 
The present situation requires good governance and local based solution, not the outcomes of the CoP26. The root cause of below-average rain seasons in Kenya can be traced to the destruction of catchment areas, deforestation, environmental degradation and climate change. When it rains, the country experiences flooding and wasted runoff with no mechanisms to harvest and store water. Expansion of Infrastructure development has destroyed critical ecosystems–trees are cut down to pave the way for development and over-harvesting of sand for construction. Water harvesting is a short term measure, and county governments need to set aside resources to store water and ban sand harvesting along rivers.
 
For example, unplanned expansion of agriculture activities within the Yala Swamp in Siaya county can alter the temperatures and climate as the swamp is cleared to meet food demand at the expense of the environment and the ecosystem. Regrettably, the yala swamp under threat also acts as a filter for rivers flowing into Lake Victoria. Research reveals that climate change can reduce the viability of species, and associated biodiversity loss can impact ecosystem functions and services.
 
There is little research on climate change and ecosystem and where it exists; decision-makers often ignore it. We know that wildlife species are dying due to drought, and it is not easy to determine the vulnerable species affected and the numbers affected by the drought. From a recent field visit in Garissa county, we learnt some giraffes and buffaloes have died including, hippopotamus and grevy zebra in other regions. 
 
Wildlife does adapt and seeks refuge among the communities. The decision that communities face is making the difficult choice of providing water to livestock and wildlife. This can be achieved when the water pumping costs can be subsidized with increasing demand for scarce resources. I echo the communities in pastoral zones that continue to provide water to the livestock and the wildlife to drink at the appropriate time.
 
Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and communities, cleared the mathenge species that had blocked access to traditional watering points and assisted communities with over 200 litres of diesel to pump water from existing boreholes for people, livestock and wildlife. With high fuel costs, pumping water using generators and solar energy is the only viable option. The Conservation Alliance of Kenya has initiated a fundraising initiative via M-Changa to raise funds to subside communities costs to pump water. 
 
Changing land-use practices, especially the expansion of agricultural activities along rivers, has blocked traditional wildlife migratory corridors routes which serve as refuge space due to the abundance of water and pasture fodder.
 
The drought situation requires a long term solution. We need innovative solutions to create and expand dams with high water retention capacity. Diesel is costly and needs to adopt green energy sources such as solar panels compared to the high cost of running generators.
 
At the policy level, national and county governments should encourage afforestation programmers with suitable tree species to protect water sources of the main rivers that pastoral communities depend on. Construct more dams to harvest water runoff and piping water to ensure both livestock and wildlife access water.
 
Finally, CS Water should also ensure that water is provided to wildlife in protected areas to draw wildlife from the community and private lands. The CS Environment and Forestry can dialogue with relevant sector players to reverse land degradation and restore degraded landscapes. The long term solution to drought and climate requires a concerted local approach targeting critical ecosystems under threat. If every Kenyan took care of our ecosystems, we can gran the present and future generation of healthy life and access to clean water.

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