JUMA NJUNGE NARRATES HIS REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE ON IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN KINANGOP VILLAGE, KENYA.
I am Juma Njunge Macharia from Murungaru, a village in an area called Kinangop, 100km west of Nairobi, Kenya. I am 81 years old and have lived here since independence in 1963. I am married with nine children….
I am a farmer and a herbal medicine man and I have been in this trade for a long time. During the war for independence, my neighbors usually came to see me for treatment. I treated them with herbs, shrubs and trees which I have been growing in my yard. I also grow wheat, maize, beans, sweet potatoes and potatoes and I keep some cows and sheep for milk and meat.
Unpredictable rainfall patterns
I have seen many changes to the vegetation in this area. I have also witnessed remarkable changes in the climate in the last few decades. When I was young the rainy season in the Kinangop area was known to start in mid-April, but it has shifted to June when it used to end. The rainfall pattern has become unpredictable and unreliable. It has become more challenging to plan any agricultural activities due to this.
I have also noticed changes in temperature. Although daytime temperatures seem to have gone up, the number of cold nights appears to have increased as well, occurring in different months. Frost used to come in June and September and we could hardly grow any maize because the frost would destroy it. However, nowadays with good rainfall, we are able to grow our maize and realize a harvest as the effects of frost are not as severe.
I am concerned about these changes in the weather as they are greatly enhancing other challenges which my community is facing. I understand that these climatic changes are caused by emissions from burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests. I hope that governments will come up with a way to stop this, and that the Kenyan government will stop logging and help by re-growing the forests which have been cleared in the last decades.
The observation given by Juma Njunge Macharia is consistent with changes in climate. The rise in day-time temperatures is true. This also applies to night temperatures consistent with the reduction in frost severity. The observation that the seasonal rainfall has shifted could be true but needs to be proved scientifically. However, there has been increase in the frequency and intensity of seasonal rainfall in Kenya and a downward trend in annual rainfall amounts associated with climate change. The assertion that logging of indigenous trees in preference to exotic tree leads to changes in vegetation is right. Logging also leads to loss of some species of trees as well as environmental degradation related to soil erosion. Trees are the major sinks of greenhouse gases (GHG’s), which are contributors to global warming. Hence, logging of trees would worsen the situation.