“When we asked them what had displaced them, they replied with one simple word: Water.”— IDP, Baringo County, Kenya
Upon invitation from the United Nations Transitional Committee (TC) on the operationalization of the new funding arrangements for responding to loss and damage, Climate Refugees submitted this case study on climate-driven loss and damage in Kenya to inform TC discussions at its second meeting (TC2) under its workplan as contained in document TC1/2023/3/Rev.3.
This case study is based on Climate Refugees’ October 2022 research and interviews with 85 climate impacted and displaced persons in Kenya experiencing climate-induced displacement, migration and human rights losses.
Kenya is dealing with multiple effects and impacts related to climate change, including floods, drought, landslides, rising lake waters and locust infestations among others. Kenya is also dealing with the current Horn of Africa drought, the worst to strike the region in 40 years. The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report has warned of the risk of high-water stress in Africa. Drylands occupy 90% of Kenya, and the impact of the drought on arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) has been acute. The number of people forced to migrate by drought in Kenya could be as high as 286,000, with over 8 million Kenyans affected in some way. In one county alone, up to 400,000 people are already impacted, including displaced by rising lakes.
With climate change comes displacement, and so too, cultural and economic loss. Flooding and expanding waters have meant permanent displacement, as well as no crops, no fishing and dependency on food aid for those who can get access to it. Not only are homes submerged, so too are the graves of loved ones. Historical livelihoods of fishing, farming and pastoralism are being forcibly abandoned due to the forces of climate change.
The funding needed to address loss & damage in these communities is acute and unmet. Humanitarian action is not only an inadequate response but also an inappropriate means of redress. Unfortunately, while impacted residents in Kenya face intertwined challenges of livelihood loss, development setbacks, displacement, and increased poverty which may actually trap households in place, discussions at the global level around finance are often focused elsewhere and are occurring at a frustratingly slow and uncertain pace. In an era of global inflation, even negotiations around loans for nations hit by extreme weather events are causing conflict.
While figures like Barbados PM Mia Mottley continue to pressure the Global North for less burdensome lending – an undoubtedly important initiative – those impacted in Kenya and elsewhere must be compensated for the immense losses they have already experienced. And while the calculation of specific figures may be fraught and complex, there is no question that such funding must not be loan-based or have hidden strings attached if the fundamental justice issues at play are to be resolved. We know that the Global North is responsible for the lion’s share of cumulative global emissions, but many are still not contributing their fair share to address climate change, even absent specific references to loss & damage. This imbalance cannot be justly rectified through loan-based finance.
Originally published by Climate Refugees.