Climate change is a global crisis that requires urgent action, and its impacts are being felt across the continent. Africa has been hard hit by sudden climatic changes that have resulted in seasonal floods during rains and devastating droughts when the rains fail to occur. For instance, up to the start of this year, 2023, the Northern counties of Kenya had experienced five failed seasons of rainfall causing a strain on the already scarce resources in the counties and orchestrating related problems like insecurity and conflicts.
To tackle negative climatic change and its impacts on the African continent, experts from NASA (led by Professor Jim) and the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) (led by Mr. Calvins Wara) paid a courtesy call to the Kenya Red Cross Society on the 5th of May 2023. Meeting the Secretary-General, Mr. Ahmed Idris, Data Specialists, and Climate Scientists from ICHA, the team discussed various ways of addressing the effects of climatic change on water resources and how this impacts communities in Kenya and the wider East African region.
During the meeting, Secretary General Idris issued a challenge to the International Center for Humanitarian Affairs team, urging them to collaborate with the NASA Applied Science Team and the experts from the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development in order to produce a joint proposal. Furthermore, the Secretary-General encouraged the team to explore the possibility of developing a cross-learning program and utilizing the Red Cross’s available data for research purposes by involving students from Brigham Young University.
The discussions highlighted the devastating effects which have resulted in reduced access to clean water for many communities, as well as the increased risk of water-related disasters such as flooding and drought. The experts emphasized the need for collaborative efforts among stakeholders and the importance of data-driven solutions in developing effective mitigation and adaptation measures.
Speaking during the meeting, Calvins Wara, RCMRD’s thematic lead in Water emphasized the importance of having accurate and up-to-date data on water resources, and how this can inform the development of effective policies and strategies. He also said that there is a need for consultative engagements for needs and gaps identification, co-development, and co-implementation of projects among organizations.
Calvins Wara also made a presentation on what they have been able to do in Malawi, highlighting the successes and challenges of their water resource mapping project in the country. He noted that the project had been instrumental in informing the development of policies and strategies aimed at improving water management and access to clean water in Malawi. The presentation provided insights into the practical applications of data-driven solutions to water resource management and the potential for replicating and scaling up similar projects in other countries in the region.
The experts emphasized the importance of involving all stakeholders in the development and implementation of projects aimed at addressing climate change and its impacts on water resources. They also discussed the potential for public-private partnerships in addressing climate change, and the importance of building resilient infrastructure and promoting sustainable water management practices.
There are several ways individuals, organizations, and governments can take early action and preparedness to address climate change and its impacts on water resources. These include modern and innovative alert and warning systems such as the case in Malawi where a satellite-based product called Global Water Sustainability (GEOGloWS) ECMWF Streamflow Service, an initiative by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is used.
Governments can also take early action and preparedness by investing in climate adaptation measures, developing early warning systems, and establishing emergency response mechanisms to address these water-related disasters. One of the major challenges facing the region is the lack of adequate infrastructure to support early warning systems and emergency response mechanisms. The experts highlighted the need for increased investment in this area, calling on governments, international organizations, and private sector players to contribute to the development of these critical systems.
The meeting, therefore, called for the establishment of multi-stakeholder partnerships aimed at developing and implementing effective solutions to address the impact of climate change on water resources. The partnerships would bring together various stakeholders with different areas of expertise, enabling them to work collaboratively towards a common goal.
“We must employ early action and preparedness in mitigating the current effects of climatic change to save our people and our continents,” Zachary Misiani, Climate Scientist, ICHA.
It is hoped that the insights gained from this meeting will inform policy decisions and actions that will lead to a more sustainable future for the region. It is time for all stakeholders to take responsibility for addressing the impact of climate change on water resources in the region. Governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector must work together to develop and implement effective solutions. Therefore, the call to action is for all stakeholders to join hands in addressing the impact of climate change on water resources in East Africa.
Integrated social protection systems play a vital role in Kenya, providing a safety net for the most vulnerable members of society and contributing to the government’s poverty reduction strategy. These systems aim to ensure inclusive and comprehensive support for individuals and communities facing various challenges, including economic hardships, disabilities, and old age. Recognizing the importance of social protection, Kenya organized the biannual Kenya Social Protection Conference 2023, held from April 3rd to 6th. The conference focused on accelerating the expansion of coverage and improving shock responsiveness within the country’s social protection systems. With Kenya recovering from the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference aimed to highlight successful practices and address the challenges faced in implementing social protection programs. Bringing together policymakers, practitioners, and scholars, the conference aimed to foster discussions on the intersection of social protection policies, advocacy, and emerging technologies. One of the key objectives was to explore how technology can be effectively utilized to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of social protection initiatives across the country. The conference served as a platform to exchange ideas, share experiences, and identify innovative strategies for optimizing the impact of social protection programs. In Kenya, various social protection programs have been established to provide assistance and support to vulnerable populations. These programs include the National Safety Net Program, Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Program, and Older Persons Cash Transfer Program. While these initiatives have made significant strides, challenges such as inadequate funding, coordination issues, and limited access to information have hindered their full potential. To address these challenges, the integration of technology into social protection systems offers promising solutions. The International Center for Humanitarian Affairs (ICHA), renowned for its research expertise, has been actively involved in supporting the Kenya Red Cross Society’s efforts. Through collaborations with partners like the British Red Cross, the Kenya Red Cross Society has spearheaded projects such as the Integrated Food Security and Livelihoods project in Taita Taveta. One notable initiative under this project is the Enhanced Single Registry (ESR), a Management Information System aimed at enhancing social protection programs. The ESR improves beneficiary targeting, registration, and identification processes, while also facilitating efficient data management and monitoring. By leveraging real-time data collection and analysis, policymakers and practitioners can better identify emerging issues and ensure that social protection programs reach their intended beneficiaries promptly and effectively. The efforts to enhance integrated social protection systems in Kenya align with the research work conducted by the International Center for Humanitarian Affairs (ICHA). With its focus on humanitarian research, ICHA contributes to the advancement of knowledge and the development of innovative approaches to address complex challenges. Collaborations between organizations like the Kenya Red Cross Society and the British Red Cross demonstrate the commitment to leveraging research findings and best practices to strengthen social protection systems and improve the well-being of vulnerable populations in Kenya.
The partnership between the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and the Airbus Foundation has been instrumental in transforming communities in Nairobi and Mombasa Counties. Through various projects and initiatives, the collaboration has brought about significant positive changes, addressing challenges and empowering local populations.
During the visit of Ms. Sophie, the Airbus Foundation Response Coordinator, to Nairobi and Mombasa Counties, the ICHA’s Innovation team showcased the progress and impact of different projects. In Nairobi, the team visited schools where Plasma water units had been installed, providing clean and safe drinking water to schoolchildren. The headteachers shared their experiences and provided valuable feedback, contributing to the project’s sustainability. The visit also involved technical support from the WASH department and Plasma Waters technician, ensuring the smooth functioning of the water purification systems.
In Mombasa County, the focus was on projects related to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and environmental conservation. The Airbus Foundation Discovery Space (AFDS) project and the URCBP project were discussed, highlighting the importance of partnership engagement in capacity building and knowledge management. Specifically, the visit to the URCBP site emphasized the significance of rehabilitating and enhancing mangrove conservation efforts for coastal protection and community well-being. The impact of the partnership between KRCS and Airbus Foundation has been substantial. The installation of Plasma water units in schools has significantly improved access to clean and safe drinking water, reducing waterborne diseases among schoolchildren. The Airbus Foundation Discovery Space has provided a platform for students to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), nurturing future leaders and innovators. Furthermore, the DRR projects in Mombasa County have bolstered community resilience to disasters, minimizing the adverse effects on their livelihoods. Looking ahead, the partnership between KRCS and Airbus Foundation will prioritize sustainability and capacity building within specific thematic areas such as Knowledge Management, Blue, and Green Economies. This approach ensures that projects are implemented in a manner that enhances community well-being while safeguarding the environment. By focusing on these key areas, the partnership aims to create lasting transformations, empowering communities and fostering a sustainable future. In conclusion, the collaboration between KRCS and Airbus Foundation is making a significant difference in communities in Nairobi and Mombasa Counties. Through their joint efforts, access to clean water, educational opportunities, and disaster resilience have improved, positively impacting the lives of local residents. The partnership’s commitment to sustainability and capacity building further strengthens its potential for long-term, transformative change, ensuring a brighter future for the communities involved.
Disaster management has become an ongoing concern in light of climate change, urbanization, and human activities that put communities at risk. To address this issue, the use of open GIS (Geographic Information System) data for decision-making is becoming increasingly important. In Wajir County, located in the North Eastern Region of Kenya, multiple disasters such as droughts, floods, and other climate-related disasters have occurred. In response to this, several GIS training programs have been organized to enhance the technical and institutional capacity of the communities in the region to use open GIS data for decision-making in disaster management. ICHA’s Data and Preparedness team conducted a GIS training from April 2nd to April 7th, 2023, in Wajir’s Eldas area attracting community members and several stakeholders including officials and representatives from the County government in ICT, Environment, Health, and Water. The training focused on enhancing participants’ knowledge and skills on GIS concepts and their application in disaster preparedness and response. “We majorly involved representatives from the county and community for this training because we want to equip them with skills in using GIS data for decision-making. It is a long-term view. I’m glad that the participants are quickly learning these key GIS concepts.” Boneya Hassan, a GIS expert, and trainer, KRCS.
The training’s objectives are critical in ensuring that communities have the necessary tools to manage disasters effectively. GIS technology is a valuable tool that helps communities make more informed decisions and take a more proactive and effective approach to disaster response. The knowledge and skills gained from the program are also transferable to other areas such as environmental management, urban planning, and public health. “The training has helped me learn how to interpret complex databases using QGIS. I can now help my organization filter the specifics needed from a particular database which helps in easy, clear, and quick decision-making processes. Fatma Saney, ICT Officer, Wajir County Government. The use of open GIS data has the potential to revolutionize the way communities manage disasters. Communities can make data-driven decisions that enhance their resilience and improve their capacity to respond to disasters proactively. The GIS training program is, therefore, a crucial step towards enhancing disaster management in the North Eastern Region of Kenya, and it should be replicated in other disaster-prone areas globally. The GIS training program in Wajir County is a step in the right direction toward enhancing disaster management in the region. The program’s objectives of enhancing the knowledge and skills of participants on GIS concepts, increasing awareness and understanding of open GIS data for decision-making, and increasing participants’ capacity to develop GIS products are critical in ensuring that communities are better equipped to manage disasters proactively.
Further Notes: Kenya Red Cross Society, through the International Center for Humanitarian Affairs (ICHA), is implementing a Community Participatory Mapping in Wajir County. It is a one-year project funded by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap (HotOSM) ESA hub focusing on the use of map data for building disaster resilience and reducing the impacts of climate-related hazards. The project aims to support disaster risk reduction (DRR) initiatives in Wajir County by working with communities and county stakeholders through the provision of comprehensive and up to datasets on buildings, roads, social amenities, key infrastructure, and vulnerabilities.
Partnerships between organizations hold immense importance, as exemplified by the recent official visit of the Tanzania Red Cross Society (TRCS) to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS). This visit served as a powerful testament to the value of collaboration and the benefits derived from sharing knowledge and experiences between different entities. The delegation from TRCS, led by Secretary General Ms. Lucia Pande and NEC Treasurer Mr. Japhet, embarked on this mission to learn from KRCS’s success story. By engaging with KRCS leadership, staff, and volunteers, the TRCS delegation sought to understand the strategies and vision that have propelled KRCS to success. The visit to the KRCS Regional Office in Eldoret further enriched their understanding of KRCS operations and their impact on the local community.
One notable aspect of the visit was the interaction between the TRCS delegation and the ICHA team. The exchange with ICHA’s Policy & Advocacy, Climate, and the Kenya Red Cross Training Institute (KRCTI) team provided the TRCS delegation with insights into policy formulation, climate adaptation strategies, and training methodologies for enhancing humanitarian work. This cross-organizational exchange of expertise enabled TRCS to gain valuable insights and perspectives to further enhance their own operations.
Moreover, the TRCS delegation also had the opportunity to meet with international bodies such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). These interactions shed light on the global strategies and approaches of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, aligning them with TRCS’s own vision and goals.
The visit by TRCS to KRCS and the interactions with international bodies emphasize the significance of partnerships and collaborations. In today’s world, marked by unprecedented challenges such as climate change, disasters, and pandemics, no single organization can tackle these issues alone. Partnerships enable organizations to combine their strengths, share resources, and leverage collective knowledge and expertise to achieve common goals.
Partnerships between organizations offer numerous benefits. Firstly, they foster the exchange of ideas, experiences, and best practices, leading to improved service delivery and more effective solutions. By learning from one another, organizations can enhance their capabilities, expand their knowledge base, and adopt innovative approaches.
Secondly, partnerships create opportunities for resource sharing and collaboration, which can result in increased efficiency and effectiveness. By pooling together their resources, organizations can achieve greater impact, reach wider audiences, and implement projects on a larger scale.
Additionally, partnerships facilitate collective advocacy and influence. By joining forces, organizations can amplify their voices, advocate for policy changes, and address systemic challenges more effectively. This unified approach enhances the likelihood of driving meaningful change and influencing decision-making processes at various levels.
Furthermore, partnerships contribute to building resilience and sustainability. Through collaborative efforts, organizations can better respond to emergencies, mitigate risks, and strengthen community capacities. By sharing knowledge, expertise, and resources, they create a more robust and interconnected ecosystem that can withstand and adapt to complex challenges.
In conclusion, partnerships between different organizations are vital for achieving shared goals, particularly in the face of global challenges. The TRCS visit to KRCS exemplifies the benefits derived from collaboration, knowledge sharing, and cross-organizational exchanges. By partnering and working together, organizations can enhance their service delivery, improve their impact, and effectively address the multifaceted issues confronting our world. Partnerships offer a pathway to collective success, where the strengths of each organization combine to create a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable future.
The Market Assessment of Economic Opportunities for Youth and Women in Mombasa holds immense significance on a broader scale. By conducting this assessment, the ICHA team from Policy & Advocacy, Climate, Data, and CVA units, with the support of the FSPI project, aims to address the systemic challenges faced by young people and women in accessing economic opportunities.
The assessment focuses on identifying employment and entrepreneurship prospects in the industrial, informal, and formal sectors. This comprehensive evaluation enables the recognition of existing industries ripe for growth, as well as the identification of opportunities for new industries. By understanding the economic landscape, the assessment empowers decision-makers and stakeholders to make informed choices that will foster economic development.
Moreover, the assessment sheds light on the challenges young people and women encounter, such as limited access to capital, education, finance, markets, and business and professional skills. Recognizing these hurdles is crucial for implementing targeted interventions that bridge the gaps and create an enabling environment for economic empowerment.
The findings of the market assessment report provide valuable insights into the economic opportunities available to young people and women in Mombasa. This information serves as a roadmap for the Kenya Red Cross Society’s Innovation Unit and other stakeholders to design and scale up training and support programs. These initiatives aim to equip young people and women with the necessary skills in financial management, marketing, and business planning. By addressing knowledge gaps and enhancing their capabilities, the programs enable participants to access capital and markets effectively, unlocking their potential for success.
Additionally, the assessment report serves as a guiding document for establishing business incubation centers in collaboration with local partners. These centers provide mentorship and coaching to young people and women entrepreneurs, creating a nurturing environment for their growth and development. By fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, these initiatives contribute to job creation, economic resilience, and sustainable economic growth.
On a broader scale, it is significant as it paves the way for creating a sustainable environment for economic growth and development. By addressing the identified challenges and leveraging the opportunities, the efforts of the Kenya Red Cross Society, local partners, and the community contribute to improving the lives of young people and women. The initiatives promote financial independence, gender equality, and inclusive economic progress, ultimately strengthening the social fabric and fostering a more prosperous and equitable society.
In conclusion, the market assessment of economic opportunities for youth and women in Mombasa is crucial for driving positive change. By providing insights into the available opportunities and challenges, the assessment catalyzes targeted interventions that empower young people and women, enabling them to tap into their potential and contribute to the economic development of the region.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme, DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for gender equality, highlights the immense significance of technology and IT skills for girls, women, and society as a whole. Embracing digital literacy is pivotal in driving economic growth, fostering development, and promoting gender equality. By championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education, we acknowledge the crucial role these skills play in empowering women and girls to thrive in the digital age.
The Kenya Red Cross Innovation Unit has taken proactive measures aligned with this theme by implementing various programs that specifically target women and their digital empowerment. These initiatives aim to bridge the gender gap by providing technical, professional, and digital literacy training, enabling women to harness the full potential of the digital landscape. Recognizing that women’s participation in the digital sphere is essential for inclusive progress, these programs focus on equipping women with the necessary skills to succeed in the digital realm and make a positive impact on their communities.
One notable program facilitated by Ajira Digital trainers from Mombasa, Tana River, and Nairobi Counties focused on training over 50 women in digital marketing, website development, and Google business account management. By acquiring these digital skills, women can enhance their online presence, attract more customers, and expand their businesses. The program aims to empower women economically and enable them to contribute to the growth and prosperity of their communities.
In another program, N-tech Solutions from Mombasa provided training to 15 women in hardware repair and maintenance. Understanding the significance of computer literacy in the digital age, this initiative equips women with the skills to repair and maintain computers, enabling them to efficiently operate their businesses and adapt to technological advancements.
Tech-Kidz Africa facilitated a program that trained 11 women in coding skills applicable to the humanitarian sector. This program recognizes the increasing role of technology in addressing humanitarian challenges. By empowering women with coding skills, the initiative enhances their employability and enables them to make meaningful contributions to the humanitarian sector, amplifying their impact on society.
Additionally, in collaboration with the UCRBP program in Mombasa and Nairobi Counties, the Kenya Red Cross Innovation Unit trained 20 women in mapping and utilizing open-source apps for disaster assessment and geographical location access. This program enhances the women’s knowledge and skills in responding to emergencies, making them better prepared and more effective in crisis situations.
The overarching perspective behind these programs emphasizes the critical importance of technology and IT for girls, women, and everyone else. Digital literacy is an essential aspect of economic growth and development in today’s interconnected world. By equipping women and girls with digital skills, we empower them to actively participate in the digital revolution, creating opportunities for personal growth, economic independence, and social progress. Moreover, fostering gender equality in the technology sector and the digital sphere is crucial for driving innovation, addressing societal challenges, and building inclusive and resilient communities.
The acquisition of digital skills by women goes beyond individual empowerment. It positively impacts families and communities as well. As women embrace technology and IT, they become catalysts for change, inspiring others and breaking barriers. By promoting gender equality in the digital realm, we create a more inclusive society where diverse perspectives drive innovation and progress. Therefore, investing in digital literacy for girls, women, and all individuals is not just a matter of equality but also a strategic move toward a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable future for everyone.
The world today is experiencing frequent and often more serious disasters which threaten to reverse the many development gains achieved over decades. The effects of climate change have become more obvious to us. The impacts are disproportionately hitting on the people and a majority of the vulnerable are the poor from different arid and semi-arid (ASAL) areas. Both humanitarian and development actors started giving much-needed attention to climate change and how this would affect how they assist the most vulnerable, in the early 2010s.
Globally, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was adopted at the Third UN World Conference in Japan (2015) with seven targets for the 2015-2030 period. The first two are Understanding disaster risk and, Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk. Ratification to this framework by member states such as Kenya has seen proactive measures such as the Participatory Disaster Risk Assessment (PDRA). Through PDRAs, an analysis can be done at community and household levels to understand their vulnerability to climate change extremes. Furthermore, PDRAs provide for the development of action plans that are envisioned to reduce the impacts of a potential disaster and inclusion of the community plans in local development plans. Some of the common frameworks for the PDRA process include the Community Vulnerability Assessment (CVA), Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis (CVCA) and Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR).
The ICHA department of Kenya Red Cross has been building capacities for county governments and communities to conduct PDRAs and establishing CMDRR committees in collaboration with county stakeholders, through our DRR-related projects. Through the HOTOSM project, ICHA organized a CMDRR a 3-day training in Wajir county (between 21st and 23rd February 2023) targeting sub-county administrators and county Directors from departments of Disaster Risk Management and Devolution Units.
With the skills gained from this training, the administrators will support CMDRR committees in the county to conduct PDRAs and develop community action plans that can be funded through the county DRM fund and NDMA’s contingency fund. A challenge fronted in this training is the lack of a DRM framework that would provide a mechanism to fund DRR initiatives by the county budget. As a way forward to this, ICHA linked their request with the USAID-KUZA project in which we are supporting the county to develop the DRM bill that will set aside 2% of the county budget for DRM. The bill has so far been approved by the cabinet and will be forwarded to the county assembly for legislation, although fast-tracking this requires continued advocacy from KRCS and partners.
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