Cyclone Kenneth recently made a landfall in East Africa. Tanzania and Mozambique bore the brunt of the tropical storm with Kenya expected to experience heavier rains and possible flooding in some areas.
Cyclone Kenneth came just over a month after Cyclone Idai hit South East Africa. This left a trail of destruction in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The formation of Cyclone Idai was blamed for the delayed rains in Kenya and other East African countries. Cyclone Kenneth was expected to cause even more havoc to the system that brings rain to Kenya.
The two Cyclones are the worst to hit the East Coast of Africa in generations. For many of us alive today, they are the first cyclones to hit these countries in our life time.
Is climate change finally catching up with Africa?
The African Cyclones: Climate Change Is Here!!
For a long time, discussions around climate change appeared alien to many Africans. As long as it rained regularly discussions on climate change were viewed as alarmist. At best, we thought that the consequences of our actions would only affect later generations, long after we are dead.
We thought we could cut trees and encroach on forests. This was based on our belief that ‘rain comes from God, not from trees’. We thought that we could emit as much carbon as we wanted. When someone raised a complaint, we argued that we need to develop.
While it is instructive to note that most of the greenhouse gas emissions happen in the global north, it is important to remember that we in the global south are the most vulnerable.
We are considerably less prepared to handle climactic disasters as evidenced by the misery that followed cyclone Idai and Kenneth and the extended drought in Kenya.
In Kenya, after the long drought, we are now faced with the problem of flooding, a cycle of disaster and misery that has now become cliché. Cyclone Kenneth is set to exacerbate the flooding and one is only left to wonder why we do not plan for the rains when it is dry or plan for the drought when it is raining.
A wake up call to Africa
Africa needs to take the front line in initiatives to mitigate and adapt the effects of climate change. Our fate lies with us and we need to realize the world out of Africa does not care for us.
If one is in doubt, the donations for the reconstruction of the Notre Dame cathedral in France surpassed and doubled the donations for the more than a hundred thousand people displaced by Cyclone Idai in less than two days. The funds for the cathedral are now in surplus with over a billion dollars, but the 664 Million Dollars needed for the victims of Cyclone Idai have not yet been found.
It is thus clear that in Africa, we are on our own. We need to wake up, sober up and deal with climate change by guarding our environment more zealously.
Our forests must be protected more militantly. We need to be stricter on the use and disposal of plastics. We need to lead the world to new frontiers in renewable energy and sustainable consumption.
It is not too late yet, but if we stay asleep, it will be soon. At the same time, we should work on our disaster preparedness and mitigation strategies. From the looks of it, Idai and Kenneth are just the start, climate change is here.