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Give Climate Change and Covid-19 equal attention to prevent mass killings

African governments have been urged to help ensure the green climate fund reaches the grassroots to help give climate change the attention it needs.

They have also been called upon to implement the existing laws to tackle the climate crisis that has brought its head even amidst the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking on Kenya’s KTN News, in an interview to establish Africa’s readiness to handle crisis of the Covid-19 magnitude when it already has been suffering effects of other calamities, PACJA Executive Director Mithika Mwenda said there was no time to waste, but to pick on the opportunities the Covid-19 crisis has presented and run with them.

“We are learning through this crisis that we can do so much in manufacturing locally. We are also learning that it is not a must that we have oil, neither must we do with coal power,” said Dr Mithika in the interview.

“One can now see the peaks of Mt Kenya from Nairobi because the air is cleaner. Isn’t this a good thing?” Mithika posed.

He called upon nations to make use of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is distributed by national Treasuries through accredited organisations such as the National Environment Management Authority (in the case of Kenya) to tackle climate change, even as they source for more funds from donor countries.

The GCF is a global fund, as per United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreements, which is meant to help poor countries mitigate and adopt to climate change.

“Communities living near or in our natural resources are trying to conserve them, hence promoting adaptation. But they need the support of governments to double their efforts. The GCF must not disappear at the national level, but needs to reach these people,” Mithika said as he left this interview.

He said the human health and the environment’s well-being were so interlinked that it would be disastrous to focus on one and ignore the other. “The kind of attention Covid-19 is getting today should be replicated on the climate crisis as both are killers of the masses. It’s only that one attacks so fast, while the other kills gradually,” Mithika added.

The interview sought to also establish the nexus between the Covid-19 crisis and climate change, also considering that the world marked Earth Day last week.

“It is clear that Kenya and the whole of Africa, is handling more than two crises concurrently, one running a fast race, and the other a marathon,” the climate activist said.

Kenya has so far lost 14 people to the novel coronavirus, while 29 other people died in one night in Elgeyo Marakwet County after their homes were swept by mudslides following flash floods last week. Several other areas are experiencing heavy flooding that has forced people out of their homes. The DRC recently lost 48 lives after torrential rains hit Uvira and surroundings in South Kivu province in the eastern part of the country.

In the Kenyans case, a school, market and a police post were also swept in the incident that has been linked to climate change. Up to 25 people are still missing. Kisumu County, Nyandarua and several others at the coast are either experiencing flooding or have been warned to prepare, according to a letter by the Kenya Meteorological Department earlier in the week. County leaderships have asked their residents to move to higher ground.

“Climate action is key and urgent. Kenya has the legislations to support this, as stipulated in the 2016 Climate Change Act, but implementation is lacking,” said Mithika.

The activist also commended the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Services for recently instructing the Kenya Wildlife Service to give more time for public participation in the review of its 2020-2030 Nairobi National Park management plan.

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