Climate change is considered one of the most serious threats to sustainable development. Its adverse impacts are particularly prevalent in Africa. Successive failed rain seasons in Kenya have led to droughts and famine. For instance, the drought of 2011 which was experienced in Kenya and the larger Horn of Africa has been described by the United Nations and the G-20 group of nations as the worst drought in 60 years. Climate change, if not mitigated, has the potential to undermine many of the positive advances made in meeting Kenya’s own development goals and the Millennium Development Goals. The launch of the KARI climate change unit (CCU) in May 2010 shows that KARI has put serious thought into the matter of climate change and is reacting to it.
The impact of climate variability and change will adversely affect the agricultural sector. It will lead to the reduction in crop yield, increased incidence of animal and human diseases, increased incidences of drought and floods resulting into food insecurity, destruction of infrastructure and deaths. KARI is at the forefront in providing farmers and livestock keepers with technologies needed to adapt and mitigate against effects of climate change. Some of these technologies include improved/drought tolerant seeds, affordable irrigation technologies, , soil testing for different agro-ecological zones and animals breed improvements amongst many other technologies.
It is imperative that research and policy intervention has proper data that can be transformed into information useful to several stakeholders. Structures and institutions to collect and generate meteorological data are very critical in the addressing climate change issues. It is also equally important to have effective mechanisms for promoting the use of such information. KARI is therefore working very closely with the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) to enhance collection and dissemination of climatic and weather data to the farming communities. Efforts will be taken to use this data in modeling Kenya climate change scenarios for advising farmers, majority of whom are small-scale. At the global level I urge climate science scientists to downscale the global climatic models to local scale to enhance their application in decision making.
DR. Joseph Mureithi,
Deputy Director, Research and Technology, KARI.