Ep 6: Interview with Velma Oseko from the Programmatic…

Fan Tai Bridges  

Hello and welcome back to voices for change. I’m Fan Tai Bridges your host and today I am joined with Velma of Seiko from the Programmatic Communications Platform.

I will be interviewing Ms. Oseko about climate change in Kenya, from the expert herself, along with her organization’s own commitment and mission for climate change action. 

Thank you, Ms. Oseko for joining us. I know that your time is very valuable. So, we appreciate that you came in and shared your insights for climate change. Let’s start with how much does the general public know about climate change in Kenya? And along with that, is it well talked about in the media and included in educational curriculums? How do we see this issue day to day?

Velma Oseko  

The general public is largely aware about climate change. This is due to the fact that a majority of media houses have been running news on the effects of climate change. We have civil society actors also on the ground speaking a lot on matters of climate change. The issue has also been well taken up by the government, clearly evident from the kinds of policies they have put in place to counter the effects of climate change on its population. And, they’re even looking to integrate climate change into the curriculum, so that students can be taken through the basics of climate change how it comes about and how it can be mitigated and how we can adapt to its effects as well.

Fan Tai Bridges  

Awesome. In an earlier podcast, we spoke about global action in the Paris Climate Agreement. Something unique about this agreement is that it followed the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) framework, where countries would establish and publish their own measures under their own terms – in the context of their national priorities. So, this provides more realistic expectations for everyone, and the global community can have more of an accurate projection of our future climate, rather than assuming that everybody can meet these certain standards. I’m wondering what is Kenya’s involvement in the Paris agreement and the measures that [the country] is personally taking?

Velma Oseko  

Kenya is one of the signatories to the Paris Agreement, and they have also submitted their instruments of ratification to help us track the implementation of the agreement in the country. They have already developed their nationally determined contribution, which is a document outlining the different actions that the country would like to conduct in order to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. The country has also developed several strategies and policies to help with identifying the necessary actions that are going to help with the climate change mitigation and adaptation in the country. And, some of these documents are the National Climate Change Action Plan. Which was recently reviewed for 2018-2022. Then, we also have the National Climate Change response strategy, which was developed in 2010. We also have a national adaptation plan. And, we also have the green economy strategy and implementation plan, which is also supposed to drive the economy towards a low emission development pathway. And then in addition to that, of course, you have the nationally determined contribution which outlines specific mitigation and adaptation actions that the country is going to put in place to play their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. You have to keep in mind, Kenya, as a developing country, has played a very insignificant role in the current crisis when it comes to climate change due to it emitting, a negligible amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into atmosphere in comparison to developed countries; however, the country is playing its part in seeing that we don’t have any more greenhouse gas emissions being emitted into the atmosphere, which is going to contribute towards the climate change phenomenon.

Fan Tai Bridges  

And with these measures and awareness, what do you think is the biggest obstacle that Kenya faces when considering climate change action? What prevents the action from happening?

Velma Oseko  

The biggest obstacle to climate change action, I’d say, of course, it is the people themselves. Because changing behaviors takes a long time and changing one’s patterns from something that is unsustainable to a more sustainable pattern, of course takes time. So, climate change action is majorly hindered by human behavioral patterns, I have to say. 

But, in addition to that, of course, you also see a lack of political goodwill also playing a big part in hampering the drive to action on climate change. And this is because we are seeing in as much as we have the necessary documentation, the necessary policy, the necessary law, the necessary strategy that all are supposed to help with fighting climate change, we are not seeing these strategies and these policies and these laws being put into action as effectively as you would wish to have them implemented. And this is one of the major causes as to why climate change is not being effectively sorted out within the country of Kenya. 

The other major hindrance on climate change action is of course, finance for effective action to be seen, we have to have [the] finances. And, Kenya has just put in place structures. A law that stipulates that there is an amount of money that is going to be put aside for climate change action, and this amount of money is supposed to go into the counties. We are also seeing some county governments trying to stipulate in their regulations finance at the county level, that they are setting aside a particular percentage of their annual budgets towards climate action. In addition to that, of course, the global body acting on climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also has several financing mechanisms on climate change. This is the Green Climate Fund, and we also have the Adaptation Fund and an older Global Environment Facility. But, accessing some of these funds, especially the international funds, has been a bit of a challenge because the requirements for an institution to access the money that has been put aside for the different interventions of climate are very, very stiff. And they’re not very flexible. So, it is hampering climate change action in different countries.

Fan Tai Bridges  

So how do we take climate change action while also prioritizing other issues, especially during this pandemic? Because right now we’re seeing a lot of insufficient resources coming in right now. There’s a lack of access to clean water, medical supplies. There are a lot of issues on human rights. And so it’s kind of hard when the list is just piling up. And, again, especially with this pandemic, it has stressed a lot of different sectors and resources.

Velma Oseko  

Interestingly enough, the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re currently facing in the world has brought up a conversation on the dynamics of human interactions with the environment. And this can be attributed to the fact that we have news that the COVID-19 pandemic had originated from wildlife. And, this has resulted in people looking further into what could be the reason as to why we had this human-wildlife interaction, and we are getting conversations around deforestation, rendering animals [without a habitat]; they do not have their original home. Therefore, they end up coming into spaces and settlements where the human beings are. And this, of course, increases their chances of interaction, and it can result in zoological diseases, and COVID-19 is an zoological disease –something that has come from an animal. When you look at the causative agents of climate change, deforestation and human activities, such as deforestation, [they] play a significant role in global warming, which results in climate change. Therefore, it is very nice to see people talking about environment and climate change even amidst the ongoing pandemic because this means that we have set some sort of traction. There is some traction that has been set to continue having these discussions around how we can, how we as humans can, can conserve our environment and, therefore, contribute towards slowing down global warming and, ultimately, also preserving the animal habitats and conserving our biodiversity in the long run. And just to add, climate change affects quite a number of sectors. You cannot say that one particular sector has not been affected by it because, whether directly or indirectly, [the] majority of the sectors that are driving our economies have been affected by climate change. Therefore, it is necessary for us to have this conversation around sectors, such as water, health or education, and see how climate change is affecting these specific sectors. That way, we can continuously work on promoting climate action in order to also stabilize these different economies. I would say agriculture, for instance, is a sector that has been gravely affected by climate change; and in turn, agriculture is one of the sectors that produces the most greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Water, for instance, has also been affected gravely by climate change because, whether we are seeing intense flooding episodes or whether we are having intense drought episodes, we are going to lack access to clean water for human consumption. If you look at education, for example, in Kenya here we are seeing areas that are mostly affected by droughts and flooding episodes. It is affecting school attendance by students in these particular regions. Therefore, if we continuously have the conversation around how climate change is affecting the different sectors, then we can have climate action being taken all the time, regardless of whether we are having a pandemic, regardless of whether we are not having an intense flooding episode, or regardless of whether we are seeing a flare-up in some sort of disease

Fan Tai Bridges  

And what do you think it would take to create urgency on this issue of climate change? How do we make people care? And even, what can our listeners do at home?

Velma Oseko  

No matter how you look at it, climate change is a matter of urgency. Recently we saw wildfires in Australia and Brazil. We are seeing locust invasion in the Middle East and in East Africa. We are seeing intense flooding episodes in East Africa. We are seeing intense drought periods. And, all these events that we are experiencing as a human population are all leading to loss of lives in one way or another and loss of livelihoods. So, it is a matter of urgency. You have seen lots of climate change activists really trying to drive the notion that we need to act on climate change fast because we’re having rising sea levels. We’re having ice caps that are melting and resulting in higher sea levels. We are experiencing warmer temperatures, and all these things, and people are still not getting the fact that climate change is something that needs to be acted on immediately, with an urgency. Therefore, it is important for us to not just go out screaming “doom on to us, as a civilization because of climate change effects,” but also to have the conversation even within our households on how our own individual activities are affecting the environment, for instance, because it is our own actions against the environment that result in greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, if you are one step closer–if each and every one of us took took their own initiative to work on environmental conservation and preservation, looking at reducing pollution at their own individual level– then you’re going to see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. And, ultimately, global warming is going to be slowed down and, therefore, also climate change. We are not going to experience climate change events as we are experiencing them now… with the intensity that we are experiencing them. I think the most effective way of us communicating on climate change, so that people look at it as a matter of urgency, is by weighing how it’s affecting our livelihoods; how a change in weather patterns is affecting our livelihoods; how us polluting the environment or cutting down trees is going to affect us in the long term. When we start having these conversations in the most simplest of ways and simplest of terms, even to a village, a woman or man, then we are going to start seeing a change in our environment and in the climate in general.

Fan Tai Bridges  

And with all of this said, about climate change in Kenya, Kenya’s response and its challenges, could you give us information about the organization you are part of. What is the programmatic communications platforms role for climate change action?

Velma Oseko  

So, the Programmatic Communication Platform was an initiative of our common development partner in Denmark called, Sustainable Energy. The platform is constituted of eight partner organizations, so all supported by sustainable energy from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. Therefore, the members of the platform are Project Officers within their individual organizations, working on different issues, some on climate change and environmental conservation. Therefore, the platform was established with the main aim of building each other’s skills in communication and advocacy, so that you can better advocate for climate change action from the decision-makers since we were all drawn from civil society organizations. But besides that, the platform is also mandated to carry out some campaigns on climate change that you can create better awareness on climate change and its effects to communities. And we are looking at different communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. We are looking at farmers. We are looking at fishermen and other groups of people who are majorly affected by climate change. And, besides that, we are looking to push for better policies; we’re looking to push for finances to come down so that effective climate action can be undertaken within our individual countries. That is basically what the Programmatic Communication Platform has been doing. And they’re utilizing various channels they’re utilizing social media; they’re utilizing avenues, such as taking videos and shooting documentaries and recording podcasts, just to continuously inform the general public on climate change and what policies are present that they need to push for implementation– to look at how we can change our behaviors as a society in order to slow down the process of of global warming and climate change. So, the platform generally is looking for behavioral change from vulnerable communities. And they’re also looking for action to be undertaken to push for action from the decision makers at the governmental levels.

Fan Tai Bridges  

Thank you again Ms. Oseko for sharing your insights on climate change and the impact of your organization. I think it’s really important that listeners know that there are people out there and organizations dedicated to this issue, especially because actual action can seem so vague at times. And, it’s kind of hard to conceptualize this. And having a greater understanding of organizations, such as your own, that focuses on climate change gives us more perspective on what can be done, what has been done, what we personally can do as well. I think that it sets a great example for us to look up to. And with that, I would love for you to leave us with any last remarks or messages to our listeners.

Velma Oseko  

I would like to let the listeners know that as much as climate change might seem as a foreign concept or some people look at it generally as a hoax, we cannot run away from the effects that we are currently experiencing at even an individual level, even at a country level. When news is awash with various events that are directly related to climate change impacts. We are seeing very many economic sectors being affected by climate change. Right now, the whole world has come to a standstill because of COVID-19. And we can also relate this to climate change impact. Therefore, it is necessary for all of us at an individual level to look at sustainable ways of living, to look at how we can reduce pollution, to look at how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions at our individual level, even in the simplest of ways. Tree planting is a very common thing that everybody does, and we can never have too many trees. Trees are our carbon sinks. And they help us with absorption of these toxic greenhouse gases from the atmosphere for better health of individuals; for a healthier environment. And, for us to thrive in our societies, we need to start taking action at an individual level. It is only in this way that you can slow down the impacts of climate change, and we can fight it.

Fan Tai Bridges  

You just listened to Velma Sacco from the programmatic communications platform in Kenya. I will attach a link to the organization’s website for you all to check out. I highly recommend it. You can learn more and even contact them if you’re interested. With that, tune in next time on voices for change

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

umande trust

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