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Over 60,000 families affected as Kenya struggles to fund ambitious climate goals

By Faridat Salifu

Kenya is in urgent need for climate finance as it faces a series of climate-related disasters.

Kenya has endured years of climate-related hardships where five consecutive failed rainy seasons have resulted in the worst drought in 40 years, affecting 4.5 million people who now require food assistance.

Following the drought, heavy rains caused riverine and flash flooding from March 1 to June 18, 2024, affecting over 306,520 individuals (61,304 families), resulting in 315 deaths, 188 injuries, and 38 missing persons.

Additionally, more than 293,200 people (58,641 families) were displaced, according to ReliefWeb and Kenya’s National Disaster Operations Centre (NDOC).

The financial challenges Kenya faces in meeting its climate change goals are significant. In 2016, Kenya pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent between 2020 and 2030 under the Paris Agreement. This commitment initially required USD40 billion in new investments.

However, the escalating climate crisis has increased this need to USD65 billion for the 2020-2030 period, as per Kenya’s Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Kenya’s susceptibility to climate change has significant economic repercussions, including an annual economic loss of approximately 2 to 2.8 percent of its GDP due to climate-related disasters.

This is compounded by other vulnerabilities, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, locust invasions, and crop pests and diseases.

The 2021 Kenya Climate Finance Landscape reveals that the country’s annual expenditure on climate action should be USD 4.39 billion, with significant allocations needed for agriculture, water, renewable energy, and other sectors.

However, Kenya’s total public expenditure on climate and nature is around USD1.53 billion per year, achieving only one-third of the necessary finance for climate adaptation. This leaves a resource gap of about USD3.5 billion annually, according to reports.

Kamau Ndung’u, a Nairobi-based auditor, emphasizes the financial strain Kenya faces. “With 49 percent of the budget dedicated to debt servicing and pensions, only 51 percent is left for all other government programs,” he says.

Gikama stresses the need to refocus on critical areas like agriculture and water, which are underfunded but essential for climate resilience.

Atieno Oloo, a financial expert at the Ministry of Finance, states that the government is leveraging both public and private capital for climate action.

The Treasury plans to distribute USD 56.9 million to 45 counties through the Financing Locally Led Climate Action program, a grant from the World Bank and its partners.

Gikama advocates for developing countries like Kenya to receive climate financing through the Loss and Damage Fund.

Despite Africa contributing less than three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, countries like Kenya bear a disproportionate burden of the climate crisis. The Loss and Damage Fund, established at COP 28, UAE, aims to address this imbalance.


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