Each year the International Day of Peace is marked around the world on 21 September. This is a day dedicated to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The 2019 theme was, “Climate Action for Peace”, which was drawing attention to the importance of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world. Undoubtedly, climate change causes clear threats to peace and security as is evidenced by among others, natural disasters, which not only result in fatalities, loss of life and livelihoods but also, displace three times as many people as conflicts, thus forcing millions to leave their homes and seek safety. In addition, the food security sector is vulnerable due to salinization of water and crops and this has an adverse impact on health and socio-economic development as well as escalating public health costs. Tensions over resources and mass movements of people are affecting every country across the continents.
The meeting was held at Route Hotel in Rumuruti on 18th September, 2019 where there were a total of 29 participants drawn from areas that are involved in violent conflicts in Baringo, Laikipia and Samburu counties. The facilitators were Dr. Dorcas Otieno, a Senior Lecturer at Kenyatta University and a UNESCO Chair and Mr. David Wandiba from Kenya Organization for Environmental Education.
Laikipia County is predominantly an arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) and has experienced challenges related to climate change that have resulted to intercommunity conflicts. The conflicts mainly emanate from interdependence with the neighbouring counties that is: Baringo, Isiolo, and Samburu. According to stakeholders in the county, the current trend is that drought is experienced every two years which is a shift from the earlier trend of seven (7) to ten (10) years. Temperatures in the region have risen by 1.5 degrees centigrade with cold nights going as low as 6 degrees. In addition, the rainfall patterns have shifted, with rainfall coming late and shortened rainy seasons (from three months to one month). Out of season rains have also become significant. As a result of the climatic changes, the region has been experiencing the emergence of pests and diseases which affect both crops, humans and animals.
Pastoralist communities in the region have been adversely affected by the changing climatic conditions. The prolonged and recurrent drought has led to reduced pasture and water resulting loss of livestock. Grazing land has also been reduced by people settlement. Neighbouring pastoralist counties migrate to Laikipia County in search of pasture and water for their livestock, further exacerbating the already resource constrained situation.
Due to the challenges on climate change, the education sector in Baringo, Laikipia, Isiolo and Samburu counties experience various issues including low enrolment, irregular attendance of school by learners, high teacher pupil ratio, lack of clean drinking water, among other issues. This leads to poor education outcomes in the schools.
The education forum aimed at engaging key education stakeholders in Baringo, Isiolo, Laikipia and Samburu counties on matters of climate change to enhance mitigation and adaptation mechanisms towards addressing climate change in learning institutions. The initiative was informed by ongoing initiatives towards collaborative action on climate change and peace towards addressing violent conflicts that affects the four counties.
The workshop was organized by the Education and Social & Human Sciences Programmes of the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM) in collaboration with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).