If you think that Kenyans are selfish people, just read the endless stream of online comments on the drought that hit 17 of our remote counties. Such crises reveal the greatness of our people. It’s times like these that bring our people together – transcending tribal, geographical or political differences.We are not just concerned. We are angry – understandably! Yet in James 1:19 we are taught: “…my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”. Even our anger should be informed.
Yes, the situation is bad, but is it getting worse or out of control? Think again! A lot of what we know or think we know about the situation is based on misinformation and derived from bad reporting. These days, many journalists have never even visited the areas they write of. Instead, they rely on information shared by NGOs and aid agencies.
Let us assume there’s no corruption (although we remain classified as a “high risk environment for donor funds”). Let’s assume all those aid agencies successfully undertake the financial auditing, monitoring and evaluation that their donors demand. Even the purest NGO is never neutral. The data is always influenced by interests.Indeed, some of those aid agencies are prepared to inflate the reported numbers of people affected by drought since they view this as a fundraising opportunity for bigger paychecks. Some of them go as far as using photos of disasters outside Kenya to portray the situation as particularly grave.
One cannot help, but feel disgusted at the capital enterprise that they build around real human suffering. Because some of their campaigns are exploiting the weak state of journalism and feed reporters with lies, the funds they raise are bound to lead to more misuse and corruption.
When the Red Cross launched an appeal to raise Sh824,554,720 – it failed. Some refused because they are weary of the kind of manipulation that some NGOs perform. But others rejected the appeal because they don’t want NGOs to cover up for the Government’s lack of action against famine and drought
If you think that about our government, think yet again! In February the Government declared a national drought emergency in 23 counties. The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) immediately sent drivers to give people the water and food they need. The Deputy President made it clear that our country isn’t facing a food crisis, but a challenge in food distribution. In parallel, 57 dams are being built to store sufficient water for the next crisis.If you didn’t read this in the media or see this in those appeals by NGOs – you already know why. Nevertheless, if you think such limited actions would amount to a permanent solution – think again. And again!
Arid and semi-arid areas cover 84 per cent of our country. It has become worse in past decades, and without serious action, the situation will get worse. Pastoralists who currently migrate to neighbouring rivers will be mortified to find even great rivers like Laikipia drying up. They will not be alone. Extreme weather is already affecting the whole of the horn of Africa, Mozambique and Malawi, down to the USA.
People deserve permanent solutions, but they should understand that a global problem ultimately requires a global solution.To stop and reverse global warming, governments need to make far greater investments into the future than can be made through any donation to the Red Cross or other agencies.
A ray of light in this sombre state of affairs can be found in the leadership of President Kenyatta. Unlike many shortsighted politicians, Uhuru is well aware of the gravity of the situation and its long term implications.That explains the wise, but unpopular, decision to increase the national debt with a Sh906 million loan to build resilience and adaptive capabilities into our system.That accounts for the Government’s target of basing 75 per cent of our energy consumption on renewable resources by the end of 2019. This is unmatched in the world.That is why President Kenyatta is raising climate change issues in all his meetings with world leaders and does well and beyond what anyone would have expected.
With only three years left in office, he could have easily dismissed it, leaving it to the next president to take action. Many lesser leaders do just that. But for Uhuru, short termism is not an option.
Our brothers and sisters in the north are suffering, but if you assume you know all about it from Twitter or NGOs – think again. There is a real crisis, but our government is working to bring relief to those affected. And if you want to make a donation after all, why not give to an NGO that tackles the root of the problem – climate change – the greatest challenge of our time?