A recent site trip to Ngong, Kajiado, organized for radio and community journalists by Peace Pen Communications and Rosa Luxemburg foundation exposed just how environmental degradation is creating havoc in the country. During the visit, Climate Change and its impact was brought to fore in a rather sober way. There were glaring exhibits that depicted Mother Nature’s retaliation on the disrespect that is being meted out on her in Ngong Hills, its environs and especially so in the sprawling Gichagi village, Ngong.
In one encounter, what started as a small vale has grown into a full blown gulley which is still claiming more land and the shocking thing is that this gulley is next to a residential area. People have built shelters next to it and they are not in a hurry to move out or take any mitigation remedies . Gulley erosion – the removal of soil from narrow valleys via the accumulation of surface runoff which tends to produce more sediment loss than other forms of soil erosion such as overland flow is the picture that the media encountered in abundance. These, as Fredrick Wainaina, the day’s facilitator cum tour guide explained are a common occurrence in Ngong and its environs and cause some of the most destructive forms of erosion, destroying soil, undermining infrastructure, damaging agricultural fields, altering transportation corridors, and lowering water tables and are also the most difficult to reverse.
Further up at the Ngong Hills, different companies practice corporate responsibility by planting trees and have also CREATEd a source of employment for the area locals who are employed to protect the area from becoming a grazing area during the infamous Kazi Kwa Vijana era. The irony of it is that after the trees were planted, nobody is employed or left in charge of the seedlings. Hence though the trees were planted with a lot of pomp, they have been left without care. They seem to have long been forgotten. Today, nobody goes to check on the progress. The shocking thing is that though some Corporations have fenced off the places they planted their seedlings; NEMA has done nothing on their side. The media fraternity found empty holes where they had planted their trees and the few that were still “alive” were drying because they are never watered.
Trees play a very important role in arresting soil erosion and the residents need to be taught on the importance of planting and conserving trees. With the explosion of vernacular and community radio, laptop clinics/ barazas can be very effective in educating the surrounding communities on the effects and linkage between soil erosion, trees and climate change.
There is need to advise farmers on the implication of changes in the atmosphere and the changes in the soil which might not be compatible with the crops they are used to planting. Here, agricultural officers must do their work in educating the farmers in this region on the importance of practicing responsible farming methods.
Increasingly warm weather means crops initially planted at a particular region in a given time will have to change. Vernacular presenters have an advantage in their use of local dialects thus if they include climate change topics in their presentations they will have a wider reach.
Corrupt people have also bought land and gone ahead to build flats without considering the risk they pose to potential tenants. The big question is, who issues this people with permits, who approves of the building plans. Yes climate change is soon going to affect tenants.