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.