Name: Peter Mulamba Bulimo
Nature-based solutions to climate change
Environmental sustainability and climate change are some of the most significant global concern of our time. From weather uncertainties to loss of biodiversity, the duo have impacted on at least every life form that exists on the planet. As such, there is need for the current generation to come up with sustainable nature-based solution that will help the world adapt and mitigate to the effects of this change and consequently leave the world a better place than they found it.
Nature-based solutions are cost-effective and usually give room for flexibility in addressing climate uncertainties and their associated risks. In light of the aforementioned, below is my story highlighting the actions I have taken to ensure environmental sustainability using nature-based solutions as a background to climate resilience.
I come from Kakamega, (Kenya)-an agricultural dependant county where the annual climatic behaviour greatly influences the agricultural output of the area. The traditional annual climatic pattern was such that long rain usually started in early March up to Mid July when they posed to give room for a harvesting period that lasted until August. The short rains would then start in September up to mid November before allowing a long dry spell lasted until late February. The drought would then be replaced with long rains in early march to complete the circle.
However, owing to climate change, climatic patterns have seriously changed such that annual rain and drought seasons cannot be clearly traced. This has led to straining of environmental resources due to overexploitation. Agricultural productivity has not been spared either with low productivity resulting to poor living standards in the area, dwindling economic progress and consequently political negligence.
As such there has been need for constituents of this region to come up with innovative ways of addressing these concerns. As an environmental enthusiast, I gave the matter priority by joining sustainability campaigns that focus on mitigation and adaptation to climate change. I have addressed the matter using two main platforms namely;
In the workplace
I live with my parents in an a quarter acre piece of land. Within the land is established our house, a small farm and a garden. The following are ways through which we have implemented nature- based solutions to the environment and climate change in that piece of land;
The fence has been made by a mixture of flowers and trees. Our piece of land is located in an area of poor drainage and as such the fence plays a strategic role in not only improving the aesthetic beauty of the compound but also conserving soil through erosion prevention and improvement of soil water retention capacity. The trees also increase the carbon sink base thus reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This will also go a long way to coincide with the county’s draft Natural Resource Management Act which once in place will compel all land owners to ensure at least 5% of their land space is covered with trees in an effort to increase forest cover and address climate change.
We have also drilled a borehole within our compound that not only supplies water for our domestic use but also serves the entire neighborhood. Approximately 50 households depend on it for their water needs. The manually pumped borehole has proved very instrumental in serving the community especially in these times of climate uncertainties. For instance, the long rains which traditionally started in March this year delayed until Mid-May, forcing most of the nearby streams to dry up resulting in a severe water shortage. However, the borehole’s stable water supply salvaged the situation by adequately supplying all its dependants to their satisfaction. The pump is also manually driven thus greatly shrinking the carbon footprint that would otherwise been incurred while using an electric driven pump.
The waste water from the pump has also been channeled towards a square pit dug nearby forming a pond-like structure within which we have planted yams as a mitigative strategy to climate change
Within the remaining piece of land we are practicing mixed farming to maximize on space. We have planted bananas around the farm to conserve soil against erosion as well as provide food. We also have within the same piece of land a mixture of maize, some tree species along the fence, sukuma wiki and aloe Vera as well as sugarcane scattered within the farm. We have chicken whose waste we use as manure instead of industrial fertilizers with the water from the pump playing an important irrigation function during the dry season. We have also build terraces along the fences to curb erosion
In the work place
I am a third year student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. Within the course of my study I was privileged to be attached to an environmental-based Non Governmental Organization for my industrial attachment program. In the firm, I worked with a team that was implementing a climate change governance project, a project which after successful piloting in the Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs), was being scaled out within the Lake Region ecosystem. The project focused on facilitating the process by which county governments can formulate climate change legislation within which will be established a climate change Fund, a Fund which once operationalized would serve a crucial role in financing local projects that offer nature-based solutions to environment and climate change.
As such, part of our mandate was to raise awareness both amongst communities and county stakeholders on matters climate change, highlighting to them the Fund’s mechanism and helping them to identify their own area specific nature-based solutions that can be implemented using moneys from the established Fund. This we achieved through community visits as well as radio talk shows.
In our campaign, we visited mainly communities living near water sources, those living near forests as well as those living near mining sites. It came to our attention that different regions experience different environmental and climate change effects and as such would require area-specific solutions to the same.
We also realized that communities have a rich indigenous knowledge base on nature-based solution to environment and climate change. However, their main obstacle is lack of a viable platform to express their ideas as well as the financial muscle to implement their resilience projects. Therefore, in consultation with the communities, we were able to identify nature- based problems and the solutions thereof that can be implemented as projects with financing from the county climate change Fund established therein.
Nature-based problems identified include;
Intensive agriculture in water catchment areas
Introduction of alien species (Planting of Blue gum and eucalyptus along riparian corridors which contributes to drying of streams).
Altered planting and harvesting seasons
Outbreak of new invasive diseases and pests due to either prolonged drought or rains
Dried up pasture which has resulted in reduced animal yields
Dried up rivers and streams
Nature-based solutions identified therein
Rehabilitation measures such as renaturation of rivers and streams to curb greenhouse gas emissions as well as to increase the river’s ability to defend against flood related damages
Agro forestry practices to increase carbon sinks
Water conservation strategies; mulching, sparing use of water resources etc
Plant bamboo trees in their homesteads and along riparian corridors. Benefits of bamboo include;
Building terraces to reduce erosion and increase infiltration
Planting vetiver grass and Napier grass for soil conservation
Reducing farming in water catchment areas and instead focusing on conservation agriculture e.g.;
Increasing Awareness level on natured-based solutions to environment and climate change
Use of drought resistant seed varieties that can survive climate uncertainties
Use of organic manure instead of industrial fertilizers
Adjusting with the altering planting and harvesting seasons accordingly
Embracing Mixed farming techniques
Establishment of tree nurseries
The fund would thus be seeking to finance nature-based solution to environment and climate change that the community would be willing to implement using an established criterion. The knowledge we impacted to the communities will be instrumental in building capacity towards climate resilience as far as nature based solutions is concerned.
In conclusion, nature-based solutions are cost-effective environmental strategies which usually give room for flexibility in addressing climate uncertainties and their associated risks. As such, given the youth are the ambassadors of sustainability, they need to give these strategies first priority in addressing environmental concerns as they are not only cheap to implement but also offer long term environmental sustainability solutions.