Helping to build climate change resilience and food security

Climate change is adversely affecting most of the world and Kenya is no exception.

Today, Kenya experiences higher temperatures, greater erratic rainfall, and more severe drought than ever before. Even areas that had rain are in drought, a situation affecting farmers’ livelihoods, food security and sustainable environments.

Alumnus Peter Muriuki is determined to help Kenyans better cope with climate change. His consultancy firm, DMG Holdings, has partnered with non-government organisation, Climate Action for Sustainable Development (CASD). Both entities are working tirelessly to address Kenya’s climate change issues, including by developing and implementing environmental impact assessments.

Using the knowledge and communication skills gained from his Australian Leadership Fellowship Award, Peter lobbies and influences government and other key organisations to use the impact assessments to better manage climate change.

Peter completed his Australia Awards Fellowship—Developing Community Engagement Strategy for Climate Change Adaption and Renewable Energy Policy in Kenya—at the Queensland University of Technology in 2011. Since returning home, he has worked with CASD and other civil society organisations to lobby government for funding to allocate water and cover costs for associated infrastructure. Results have exceeded expectations, with funding increased from 5 billion shillings to 55.8 billion.

In working with government departments such as the National Environment Management Authority, Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Ministry of Water and Sanitation, Peter continually sees positive change. It is now compulsory, for example, for approved housing plans to include gutters for harvesting rainwater.

The government is also responding constructively through major infrastructure projects like building dams.

‘While in Australia, I learned about water harvesting and am using this knowledge to lobby government for funds so communities can collect rainwater, store it or recharge it back into the groundwater,’ says Peter. ‘We see progress here also.’

CASD and DMG Holdings are also active in projects making more water available for irrigation in about 2,500 homesteads in Kajiado, Machakos, Meru, Nakuru and Nyeri counties. Clean water means homesteads can grow and export more crops and achieve longer-term food security.

The two entities are educating farmers on new methods to grow crops under challenging climate conditions. Methods include integrating crops with appropriate tree species to create agroecological zones and implementing soil conservation measures.

In addition to building knowledge and skills while in Australia, Peter has learned more about best agricultural practices from another Australian Awards alumnus, Joseph Macharia, who developed Mkulima Young, an online marketplace for farmers.

Leveraging on the networks Joseph established while studying his short course, Peter invited a visiting Australian and New Zealand environmentalist team, led by Dr Rowena Maguire, Senior Lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, to participate in a CASD-sponsored reforestation project in Machakos County. The project is increasing forest cover and reversing environmental degradation at Kilimambogo Hill.

As part of the project, and with support from the Kenya Wildlife Service, in 2012 the team donated US$1,000 to the reforestation project and planted more than 10,000 trees with the help of the local community and school children.

Peter used his negotiation skills to persuade the same team to cover the US$500 required to connect power utilities at his alma mater, St. Joseph Simbara Secondary School, making it easier for children to study.

In another consultancy project, Peter led a team of experts on a 150 billion shillings project conducting the environmental impact assessment for a planned hydroelectric power station and dam at High Gland Falls, designed to supply water in Lamu County.

This project is one of many Peter works on sharing his knowledge, collaborating with others, and building networks, in the name of positive climate change for all Kenyans, including women, children and those living in rural areas.

Photo Credit: Peter Muriuki

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