Climate Change As Seen From Nairobi

Per capita income in Kenya is $1,200. Climate change does not currently rank high on the list of pressing concerns of the residents of Nairobi, according to a new study by Meleckidzedeck Khayesi and Chris Shisanya in the journal Climatic Change.

The global concern about climate change appeared like a mere drop in the oceanic context pervaded by problems of poverty, unemployment, crime and corruption, etc. which Nairobi faces, as does Kenya as a whole. Our conclusion is partially reflected in the priorities of the Kenyan government, which focus on poverty alleviation, the fight against crime and graft, improved access to education, and on addressing health problems; it also poses a challenge to the climate change community to find ways to making interventions relevant to local socioeconomic reality facing a developing country city like Nairobi. There may be a need to reconsider ‘whose reality counts’ (borrowing from Robert Chambers, Whose reality counts? Putting the first last, Intermediate Technology Publications, London, p 122, 1997) in addressing climate change: should protracted Kyoto protocol negotiations be given priority or should a long lasting solution be sought to socioeconomic problems facing developing world cities such as Nairobi? We recommend that the ongoing efforts at integrating climate risk management, as components of climate-sensitive sustainable development, be studied in many settings, with a focus on the developing world which is the most vulnerable, in order to inform decision-making and development of intervention measures.

One Comment

  1. The Kyoto Protocol: The U.S. versus the World?

    Using a variety of public opinion polls over a number of years and from a number of countries this paper revisits the questions of crossnational public concern for global warming first examined over a decade ago. Although the scientific community today speaks out on global climatic change in essentially a unified voice concerning its anthropogenic causes and potential devastating impacts at the global level, it remains the case that many citizens of a number of nations still seem to harbor considerable uncertainties about the problem itself. Although it could be argued that there has been a slight improvement over the last decade in the public’s understanding regarding the anthropogenic causes of global warming, the people of all the nations studied remain largely uniformed about the problem. In a recent international study on knowledge about global warming, the citizens of Mexico led all fifteen countries surveyed in 2001 with just twenty-six percent of the survey respondents correctly identifying burning fossil fuels as the primary cause of global warming. The citizens of the U.S., among the most educated in the world, where somewhere in the middle of the pack, tied with the citizens of Brazil at fifteen percent, but slightly lower than Cubans. In response to President Bush’s withdrawal of the Kyoto Protocol in 1991, the U.S. public appears to be far more supportive of the action than the citizens of a number of European countries where there was considerable outrage about the decision.

    Carlos Menendez

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