In recent years increasingly extreme weather events have started to threaten these climate-sensitive industries, upon which the nation relies. In their National Climate Change Action Plan, which was launched in March 2013, the Government of Kenya estimates that more than 70 percent of natural disasters across the country are now related to extreme climate events.
"We are already seeing more prolonged droughts, increased flooding, as well as receding lakes and drying wetlands," explains Harun Warui, the Project Manager for the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Low Emission Capacity Building (LECB) project in Kenya, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
The continued annual burden of extreme climatic events could cost the economy around 2.6 percent of the country's GDP, with implications for long-term growth, the government estimates. The 1998-2000 drought, for example, destroyed crops, livestock, sparked forest fires and caused other damage adding up to an estimated loss of around US$ 2.8 billion, according the Government.
In a country highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture for food production, changes in weather patterns also means major food security challenges. And, already the number of Kenyans requiring food assistance has risen from 650,000 in 2007 to almost 3.8 million in 2009/2010, Government statistics show.
An essential first step identified under the national Climate Change Action Plan was to set-up a comprehensive and sustainable national GHG inventory system. Establishing such a system would enable policy makers to have more confidence in actual and projected future GHG emissions and identify mitigation opportunities with the highest potential. It would also enable Kenya to better meet its reporting obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
In late 2012, the LECB project began working with the Government of Kenya to establish the much-needed national inventory system. David Adegu is the LECB's GHG Coordinator. "Creating a sustainable GHG inventory system in Kenya has been hampered in the past by the fact that focal points for this work have been individuals, rather than institutions," he explains. There had also been a heavy reliance on external consultants, alongside a lack of financial and human resources to carry out the work. All of this added up to "insufficient database management and difficulty in sustaining an inventory system or team," he said.
The key objective of the LECB support is to engage and build the capacities of government institutions and staff to collect, document, and archive key data in all sectors on a regular basis for the GHG inventory process.
To achieve this, over a one-year period, the LECB project has been working with a wide range of stakeholders, says the LECB project's lead GHG inventory consultant Fredrick Mukua. "We began by jointly creating a national GHG team, who are really responsible for defining the process as well as the legal and institutional arrangements for the inventory system," he said.
The new inventory system is expected to be up and running towards the end of 2014 and will ultimately become a part of the country's national Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system known as MRV+, which was designed as a component of the national climate change action plan. This MRV+ system will monitor and evaluate both adaptation and mitigation efforts and GHG emissions; providing Kenya with a crucial tool for understanding and addressing many environmental challenges.
Kenya is pursuing a low carbon, climate resilient development pathway in response to the impacts of climate change. The government
estimates that more than 70 percent of natural disasters across the country are now related to extreme climate events.
The inventory system will also become a key component of the government's national "MRV+" system, which was designed as part of the National Climate Change Action Plan.