ACCRCC stands with the victims of Cyclone Freddy

Nairobi, Kenya, 30 March 2023: The African Coalition of Communities Responsive to Climate Change (ACCRCC) stand with the people and communities in Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, and the entire SADC region following the devastation meted against them by Cyclone Freddy.

While the global communities have stood aloof and oblivious to what is happening in the region, most specifically Malawi, the ACCRCC Board is happy to note the massive response from within the communities who came out in large numbers to support and aid those affected by the ravages of climate change, a problem the poor and the vulnerable in Malawi and Mozambique hardly created.

The west will continue to resist our calls for compensation for losses and damages meted out against the vulnerable and poor rural communities but we will not relent.

Cyclone Freddy clearly demonstrates heightened efforts to our demand for #ClimteJustuce

Aluta Continua


rural women and energy

Mainstreaming gender in Clean Energy solutions for rural women to combat mental illnesses

In the year 2022 investments in renewable energy were at their highest standing at USD 0.5 trillion according to the Global Landscape of Renewable Energy Finance 2023 report. However, as the global community strives to achieve sustainable development goals and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030, this is just a drop in the ocean.  There is notable inequality in this investment across the developed and developing countries, more so in Africa, which besides contributing very minimally to fuel climate change, yet suffering the highest impacts of the same.   

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has highlighted the need for climate solutions that conform to principles of procedural and distributive justice for more effective development outcomes. As Mary Robinson, the 7th president of Ireland noted that it is injustice for the most vulnerable people to often be also disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis as well as the measures meant to address the crisis.

The impact of climate change to individuals, families, and communities is far from being put in the right perspectives in relation to the real felt and daily implication of the same to well-being. From a gender perspective, women in Africa are more vulnerable to climate change than men due to their limited access to crucial resources such as agricultural inputs, land, and affordable credit; dependence on natural resources most at risk of climate change such as fetching water and wood; lack of education and access to adaptation information; limited mobility of women due to gender roles that dictate that they remain at home; and limited roles in community and family decision making.

Climate perpetuates Gender Based Violence among girls, women, and marginalised groups manifest in the form of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse and economic acts of violence which has been recorded widely in East Africa.  Typically, such violence occurs frequently and among young school, young women, single mothers, and married women including the elderly when they have to travel long distances to fetch firewood for household use.

Climate change mitigation measures can place a higher financial burden on poor households. While much progress has been made on the science front and the types of policies needed to support a transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient development, a challenge facing many countries is engaging citizens who may not understand what climate change is, and garnering the support of those who are concerned that they will be unfairly impacted by climate policies. It is critical that people are brought along in the choices to be made – this requires transparency, access to information, and citizen engagement on climate risk and green growth in order to create coalitions of support or public demand to reduce climate impacts and to overcome behavioral and political barriers to decarbonization, as well as to generate new ideas for and ownership of solutions. Moreover, communities bring unique perspectives, skills, and a wealth of knowledge to the challenge of strengthening resilience and addressing climate change.

As the world adapts generation and use of renewable energy the nexuses, perspectives, and juxtapositions from the lens of the vulnerable community, more so the rural women and girls need to be ‘enlarged’ for sustainable development in the energy sector, as the renewal/clean energy inventions progress.

 Clean energy comes from renewable, zero-emission sources that do not pollute the atmosphere when used.  Clean energy comes from generation systems that do not produce any kind of pollution, notably greenhouse gases like Co2, which cause climate change. Therefore, clean energy – in full development – drives advances to conserve the environment and palliate the crisis with non-renewable fuels, such as gas and oil. solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass sources.

 In the technological advancement in energy solutions, it is critical that more women are brought along in the choices to be made – this requires transparency, access to information, and women’s engagement on climate risk and green growth in order to create coalitions of support or public demand to reduce climate impacts and to overcome behavioral and political barriers to decarbonization, as well as to generate new ideas for and ownership of solutions.

Moreover, grass-root communities and gender groups bring unique perspectives, skills, and a wealth of knowledge to the challenge of strengthening resilience and addressing climate change. It is imperative to capture all the forces, the nexuses, the perspectives, and juxtapositions from the lens of the vulnerable rural women in the community, through meaningful engagement of the rural women who live and re-live the daily implications of and distress of putting a meal on the table for their families. What does climate change mean to this woman who on top of her mind is the easiest, most available, affordable source of energy to prepare simple meals? The elderly women,  pregnant, lactating mothers, and girls that have to walk long distances in search of firewood for domestic use?   

The distress that these ‘normal’  daily chores may have on the women could be leading to psychological problems such as mood changes, anxiety, low self-esteem, and dissatisfaction that trigger and or complicate existing mental illnesses.  Persistent, recurring distress also has a negative impact to work, relationships, health, and body functioning. Knowing that stress can cause physical, emotional, and behavioral problems; affecting the health of the body from the musculoskeletal system to the reproductive system; Chronic painful disorders can be brought on or aggravated by stress;  Stress can cause/aggravate heart disease, diabetes, ulcers, impotence, and a decreased sexual drive, it paints a picture of a ‘heath-wise’ burdened woman.

Notable is the fact that women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs is far lower than in administrative jobs, and only one in five leadership roles in the energy sector are held by women, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022.

The call to Action is there is a need to involve and employ more women in renewable energy for them to contribute and generate homegrown solutions for sustainable development as we strive to achieve Sustainable Energy for  ALL.

The Author is Dr. Rosalid Nkirote, PhD, Consultant Psychologist and Executive Director and Gender Focal Point, of the African Coalition of Communities Responsive to Climate Change.


Kenya positions itself to lead in renewable energy

Kenya’s leading role as the continent’s green energy hub received a major boost when the European Union (EU) and the German Development Corporation [GDC] pledged to offer support for its 100 percent transition to green energy by 2030.

According to the EU Head of Energy in Kenya, Martin Andersen, the EU plans to spend another Sh2.7 billion in grants for a new energy project “Green Resilient Electricity System” that is being designed together with Kenyan energy actors.

Speaking while in Naivasha recently, the European teams disclosed that The EU has spent over Sh19 billion in grants to the renewable energy sector, especially in generation, transmission, and distribution systems and various supported the country’s green energy mix consisting of the geothermal power, solar, and wind.

Andersen said the project will support new green electricity generation and strengthen the transmission system and thereby supporting Kenya’s ambition for a 100 percent green electricity system by 2030.

Further, Andersen said the EU has increased its grant funding to the tune of Sh542 million for the ongoing Sustainable Energy Technical Assistance [SETA] that will benefit 20 county governments to meet their energy generation provisions.

He said SETA is designed to support the venture on wind, solar, and battery energy storage, providing clean power to the national grid to enhance efficient, climate, and environment-friendly energy services for Kenyans.

The GDC Country Director, Bodo Immink, said Germany has scaled up its investments in the country in areas of geothermal power generation, wind, solar, electric mobility, green hydrogen, and clean cooking technologies.

Data by the country’s energy ministry indicate that the installed electricity capacity has risen from 1,600 megawatts(MW) to 3,300 MW in the last decade, with over 90 percent sourced from clean energy sources.

Since taking the oath of office last September, President Ruto has pledged to keep developing this geothermal capacity and move to 100 percent clean energy by 2030.

The government estimates there is 10,000 MW of untapped geothermal energy, enough to power Kenya’s current peak demand five times, spread out across two dozen sites in its Rift Valley region.

Experts say that this is helping Kenya to develop in several ways. “You have no emissions with geothermal. That enables Kenya to access cheap climate finance to pursue its own development agenda,” says Henry Paul Batchi Baldeh, director for power systems development at the African Development Bank.

“Geothermal contributes to power generation. The more you electrify your country, or you give people access to clean cooking alternatives, the more you find deforestation and charcoal burning declines,” continues Baldeh. “That obviously helps women in particular and improves their health and livelihoods.”

Kenya is now exporting its technology and know-how across the region. “We’re in Ethiopia and Djibouti providing technical support for drilling. But we’re also looking at providing surface studies to other countries, like Rwanda and Comoros,” says Peketsa Mangi, general manager of geothermal development.

The Author, Henry Neondo, is an  Advocacy, Campaigns and Communications Advisor


Leaders asked to integrate mental health in climate-related disasters responses

Governments have to integrate mental health in all climate change intervention programmes.

During our radio advocacy, Dr Rosalid Nkirote, a psychologist on climate-related stresses and executive advisor at the ACCRCC noted said besides commodities, survivors from losses and damages due to climate change as those in most parts of Northern Kenya also need psychosocial support.

“Designing intervention programmes that exclude mainstreaming psycho-social and mental health is doing a disservice to communities undergoing stress and depression from loss due to severe impacts of climate change such as droughts as being witnessed in parts of the country,” she said.

Extreme weather events such as floods and droughts have become more frequent, intense, and at increasing severity.

The society said Dr Nkirote must look seek for ways of protecting vulnerable populations such as those in humanitarian situations. In Kenya for example, it is now official that droughts cycles now occur every year. Some decades ago when they used to come once in a generation.

According to climate change experts at the IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC), extreme weather conditions present a serious threat to human livelihoods, and in certain situations, they may even be fatal.  The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa and Kenya.

Agriculture, water, health, energy, infrastructure, and transportation are just a few of the many climate-sensitive sectors negatively impacted by recurrent shocks that have recently grown in frequency and intensity.

Dr Nkirote said when pastoralists lose all their livestock or smallholder farmers fail to harvest after massive investment on the farm, the resultant stress is huge.

“Unfortunately, this has been a neglected area, yet to receive the needed attention,” she said.

Often, continued Dr Nkirote governments and non-governmental organisations plan for commodities and non-food items and have hardly considered integrating mental health in intervening programming.

According to Dr Nkirote, climate change is already impacting health in a myriad of ways, including by leading to death and illness from increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms, and floods, the disruption of food systems, increases in zoonoses and food-, water- and vector-borne diseases, and mental health issues.

Furthermore, she said, climate change is undermining many of the social determinants for good health, such as livelihoods, equality, and access to health care and social support structures.

Worse, said Dr Nkirote is the depression that farmers and pastoralists suffer because of loss of livelihood due to climate-related impacts.

Depression is a common illness worldwide, and affects about 280 million people, leading to over 700 000 deaths from depression-related suicides every year. Kenya is ranked fourth leading African country with high cases of depression with close to 2 million people affected.

According to the ministry of health, depression accounts for 25% of the disease burden among outpatients, 40% among inpatients with 1% of the general population prevalence of psychosis.

Dr Nkirote said this percentage is likely to increase dramatically with the climate change crisis which is increasing related conflicts for water, and pastures.

Dr Nkirote said between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress.

The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between USD 2-4 billion/year by 2030.

Over 930 million people – around 12% of the world’s population – spend at least 10% of their household budget to pay for health care.

Making matters worse is the weak health infrastructure in vulnerable countries, a fact that does not offer a coping mechanism for climate-affected populations.

With the poorest people largely uninsured, health shocks and stresses already currently push around 100 million people into poverty every year, with the impacts of climate change worsening this trend.

The Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) says that to avert catastrophic health impacts and prevent millions of climate change-related deaths, the world must limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.

The IPCCC notes that the climate crisis affects the people who contribute least to its causes, and who are least able to protect themselves and their families against it – people in low-income and disadvantaged countries and communities.

The climate crisis threatens to undo the last fifty years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction, and to further widen existing health inequalities between and within populations.

Ethiopia, Adadle 22 January 2022
WFP Regional Director Michael Dunford visit to an IDP camp in Adadle district in the Somali region where he met the communities and heard directly from them on the impact of the drought. 
Photo: WFP/Claire Nevill

Ethiopia is experiencing prolonged drought with three consecutive poor rainy seasons, the first time in four decades; three consecutive rainy seasons have failed since late 2020. There are indications that the next rainy season in March/April 2022 may also be well below normal.
The intense and ongoing drought will cause significant food and income loss, worsening food insecurity through mid-2022. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in southern and south-eastern pastoral areas in the coming months, with some households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of hunger.
According to the Somali Region Drought Response Plan December 2021:
•            up to 3.3 million people are likely to require food assistance in the next three months.
•            2.2 million people are facing water shortages and need urgent water trucking.
•            173,000 children under 5 years of age and pregnant and lactating women are malnourished.
•            260,000 livestock have died, signalling growing stresses and vulnerability to human populations. These challenges are exacerbating longer-term difficulties linked to COVID-19, inflation, desert locust invasions, poor infrastructure, and drought. 
•            During a nutritional screening conducted in the Somali Region in December 2021, 22 percent of children and a third of pregnant and breastfeeding women were found to be wasted. All zones exceeded the emergency Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) threshold of 15 percent, and eight of 11 zones having higher than 20 percent prevalence.
WFP is scaling up its support to reach 2.7 million beneficiaries in the Somali Region with emergency food assistance and cash-based transfers. WFP supports over 30,000 women and chil

ACCRCC experts wary of the climate-induced stress on drought-hit individuals, and families in the Horn of Africa

Unlike his Turkana tribesmen whose livelihood revolve around rearing livestock, Jacob Ebenyo, 54 never depended so much on his animals.

His primary call, he says, “has been pastoring God’s flock,” referring to ministering at the village church in Kodopa location of Loima sub-County, Turkana County, northwest of Kenya that borders south Sudan.

However, for once in many years, Ebenyo has been distracted and gotten concerned with the livestock his family owns. The ongoing drought is decimating them to their hundreds.

Like his neighbours, Ebenyo spends sleepless nights wondering which of his surviving animals will hold on to life until the rains come.  Each passing day, neighbours report many animals that succumb to the drought.

“People are distraught. In fact, many men are stressed and some suffer from depression brought about by the loss of the ability to find pasture and water for their livestock. With the death of the animals, men can no longer provide for their families and so their sense of dignity and security,” said Ebenyo.

So dire is the situation that experts at the African Coalition of Communities Responsive to Climate Change (ACCRCC) have called for urgent action to lessen the stress and hazards due to the ongoing withering droughts in the East and Horn of Africa.

Dr. Rosalid Nkirote, an expert at the Kenya Meteorological Department and who consults for the ACCRCC said the drought being experienced in Kenya and the horn of Africa is hitting communities, economies, and ecosystems hard.

Drought in East Africa has worsened following consecutive failed rainy seasons combined with heightened conflict, related population displacement, and COVID-19 restrictions.

The FAO report of high food prices, which continue to impede food availability and access, leaving more than 58 million people in conditions of acute food insecurity.

 The situation is worsening this year – especially in Ethiopia, Somalia, and parts of Kenya. Southern Madagascar is also suffering from acute drought.

Kenya’s National Drought and Management Authority on Wednesday this week issued a statement on the worsening drought situation in the country.

According to Rebecca Miano, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Community, the situation in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) remain critical due to the late onset and poor performance of the much-anticipated October to December 2022 short rains, coupled with four previous consecutive failed rainfall seasons.

Currently, nine out of the 22 arid and semi-arid (ASAL) counties have been termed as in the “Alarm drought phase while 13 counties are in the Alert drought phase,” according to Ms Miano. 

 “The worsening crisis shows how climate change threatens the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people and destabiliizing communities. Worse is the hidden stress individuals within these areas go through,” said Dr  Nkirote.

Dr  Nkirote adds that as a result of the ongoing drought and other impacts of climate change, there is a notable increase in health-related challenges, more so the psychological and mental well-being of individuals and vulnerable communities.

She said that the situation is aggravated by the fact that most economic activities in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) are dependent on weather and climate.

The region is currently struggling with the vagaries of climate change manifest in extreme events of prolonged depressed rainfall for several rainfall seasons.

For example, a recent report by ICPAC on the June to September 2022 Forecast season, which contributes 70% of the total annual rainfall for the Region, was forecast to be below normal for at least three countries. ICPAC is a Climate Center accredited by the World Meteorological Organization that provides Climate Services to 11 East African Countries in the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Dr  Nkirote’s assertion agrees with the State of the Climate in Africa 2021 report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Africa’s climate has warmed more than the global average since pre-industrial times (1850-1900).

The report showed that extreme weather and climate change are undermining human health and safety, food and water security, and socio-economic development as a result of rainfall patterns disruption, and the shrinking of key lakes, which threaten to aggravate conflicts and displacement.

Africa only accounts for about 2% to 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions but suffers disproportionately from the results.  

“Temperature increase, heat waves, extensive floods, tropical cyclones, prolonged droughts, and sea level rise resulting in loss of lives, property damage, and population displacement, undermine Africa’s ability to achieve its commitments to meet the targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union Agenda 2063,” said Ambassador Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment at the African Union Commission.

Currently, only 40 percent of the African population has access to early warning systems to protect them against extreme weather and climate change impacts.


Replacing Fossil Fuels to Fight Climate Change could improve health

The burning of fossil fuels – such as gasoline in cars, or coal and natural gas for electricity – is the root cause of a frighteningly broad range of illness and death as it pollutes the air and drives the accelerating climate crisis.

Once, while working an overnight shift in the emergency department during the spring, I saw a young girl with asthma. It was her third visit that week, and her small chest was heaving up and down as she struggled to breathe. As treatments began to open her daughter’s airways, the mother’s eyes began to fill with tears as she shared their recent challenges.

“I have done everything the doctors have told me – and she just keeps getting worse. What am I missing?”

The patient’s pediatrician and lung specialist had been following the latest medical guidelines, which left me asking: What have we been missing? As I outline further in The New England Journal of Medicine, I looked up my patient’s address and found that her home was in very close proximity to a highway. She had been breathing in air polluted by the exhaust of gasoline-burning vehicles during her young life.

Economic injustice and racism are behind why some communities have health-protective infrastructure – such as parks – and others, like my patient’s, have health-harming highways and industrial complexes. Research shows that low-income neighborhoods and communities of color have been disproportionately exposed to air pollution from nearly every emission source, independent of factors like geographic region.


Flooding and drought fuels mental health crisis in Kenya

By Sophie Mbugua

About a year ago, Pauline Yator, a 50-year-old mother of seven from Baringo county in Kenya’s Rift Valley, said she almost went mad.

“The farm I had called home for nearly 30 years was completely submerged, I was in shock and afraid. For two weeks I walked by the roadside speaking to myself,” Yator told Climate Home News. “Questions ran through my mind without answers. How will my children survive? Where do I resettle? It was a difficult time.” Yator is not the only Kenyan farmer to suffer from severe depression and anxiety. Kenya is facing a mental health crisis, triggered, in part, by climate change. Many sufferers told Climate Home News that losses caused by drought, flooding and other extreme weather contributed to their distress. According to the World Health Organization, Kenya ranks fourth in Africa for the most number of mental health cases, with 1.9 million people, 4.4% of the population suffering from depression. In June 2020, the government declared a mental health emergency after a recommendation by a task force. Yator received no psychological support and turned to prayer to cope. Now, a year later, she sustains her family as a fishmonger in Kambi ya Samaki area, along the shores of Lake Baringo. While looking for work, Yator relied on friends and well wishers for financial support. “When I was at my farm, I had water, firewood all from my farm. Today, I cannot afford to pay my daughter’s university fees – something I did at ease with the farm produce,” she said.