Africa needs money to fight climate change, but what’s it being spent on? – Business Daily
A debate has raged this last week on how Africa isn’t getting the international money promised to address climate change. PHOTO | POOL
A debate has raged this last week on how Africa isn’t getting the international money promised to address climate change. But the huge matter drawing barely a comment is what climate funds are being spent on.
From 2014 until this year, 73 per cent of the funds invested in climate change in sub-Saharan Africa went into solar energy.
Now, solar energy is a wonderful thing, but it sits in the pot we call mitigation, which reduces Africa’s carbon footprint (decreasing the burden on the Ozone).
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Kenya, and Africa, contribute only a tiny proportion of the carbon balloon damaging our planet. But Kenya, and Africa, have a real and present issue in coping with the impact of everyone else’s carbon excesses.
The ‘help Africa’ strand of climate activists, addresses that, is called adaptation and should enable Kenyans to reduce the impact on their own lives from the changing climate.
The debate on that has now shot off into discussions about natural disaster compensation.
However, while we are all dreaming of the money we will get as people die in flooding or droughts, I need to raise my small hand and point out that climate change is killing people and plundering our economy every single day, and there are so many ways we could reduce that given rigidly dedicated funds for it.
Take the thorny issue of rising temperatures. One impact is heat stress, and the people it hits the hardest are those in urban slums.
Cities heat up more than rural areas, and without ventilation, shade from trees, or insulating materials, people are roasting in Mathare and Kibera, under their tin roofs.
Their indoor temperatures now frequently top 40 degrees, where old people and children start dying from overheating from 35 degrees upwards.
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Yet, there are dozens of low-cost ways to slash those indoor temperatures, from climbing plants on walls to rooftop cooling paint. How about a dollar for that?
Our roads, meanwhile, are being ripped apart by heat that causes cracks, rain that gets into them eroding the soil underneath to generate potholes, and floods that wash them away.
In India, 60,000km of road have been built with unwanted, unrecyclable plastics added to the bitumen mix. Just half a centimetre seals roads against heat, water, and lifting for years to come.
With a new focus on helping Kenyans, we could have small-scale irrigation, water-creating mini towers, natural flood protection, drought-resistant seeds, weather forecasts for farmers and extension so they choose crops that match the weather, and a massive cut in the lost GDP and lost lives caused by climate change.
The problem is, who is pursuing that agenda, of ‘mitigation’, for us and for our communities?
The writer is a development communication specialist.