This East African nation is known for stability. But drought and rising prices are fueling insecurity, a new study has found.
Kenya stands to become one of the biggest winners from climate-change policies that it is currently struggling to negotiate in Africa. But as the continent grapples with changing rainfall patterns and a surge in food prices, the nation’s climate-change policy could be an opportunity to deliver much-needed services to the poor.
“We haven’t seen this kind of development for a long time in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr. Martin Tromp, a co-author of the report, “The Future of Kenya.” The report, released on Friday, says “a small band” of Kenyans have begun “building resilience.” It also says Kenya is heading toward poverty as a result of climate and economic policies that are not serving its needs.
“What I have noticed is a lot of people living longer with less mobility in terms of the things we take for granted in the West, like clean drinking water and good sanitation. And that’s not happening here,” said Tromp. He said these new climate-change policies, which are now being negotiated, would not be in Kenya’s interests if they don’t bring more development to the nation on top of the current policy.
The report was produced in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of Developing Societies and Africa Research Center. The report says climate-change-driven food price increases pose a “tinderbox” risk for Kenya.
It points to a rise in the number of people in need of food aid, from a combined population of about 35 million people today to “between 60 and 85 million people in 2050.” The number of people in need of food aid is roughly the same as the number of people displaced by climate-related violence, it added.
“We’re the ones who are doing the climate change, and we’re doing it to people who do not need climate change. We’re doing it to the poor people who do not need climate change,” said Tromp. “That is the people who are the most vulnerable in terms of climate change and food insecurity, they are the people who are already living in poverty. They are being hit hardest.”