Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kenya is Not Helpless in the Fight Against Climate Change

Photo: Much of Kenya's Eastern and North Eastern Provinces are arid. This shot was taken near Isiolo.

The rains in Kenya have failed for four years in a row. As well as resulting in a shortage of water, there have also been crop failures, domestic animals dying in huge numbers and a shortage of electricity, much of which is generated by water.

Despite all this, some Kenyan politicians think it is a good idea to give subsidies to foreign multinationals which grow biofuels for people in developing countries to burn in their cars. They also lease hundreds of thousands of hectares to foreign governments so they can grow food for their populations while Kenyans are dispossessed of their land and left to starve.

Similar remarks apply to the large amounts of cut flowers, fruit, vegetables and various monoculture goods that are produced for the benefit of wealthy countries. The owners of these operations pay as little as possible, both to the Kenyan government and to the governments of their own countries. They have disgraceful records when it comes to corporate social responsibility, environmental management and labour relations.

The continuing hoohah over the Mau Forest is also relevant here. Land there was grabbed in large quantities by rich people, many of whom were senior politicians. They misappropriated the land, stripped it of its forest and did pretty much what they liked with it, regardless of the consequences for ordinary Kenyans. And now they have been challenged, rather than rectify the problems they have caused through pure greed, they will probably do little more than evict the poorest people in the forest, who ended up there out of desperation.

Large tracts of land in other areas relevant to the country's water security, such as Mount Kenya and the Aberdares, are owned by rich landowners, often absentee landowners. Water shortages cannot be blamed entirely on climate change. Sphere: Related Content

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