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UK aid’s commitment to tackle climate change in Africa 

During a two-day visit to Kenya, Rory Stewart, the UK’s International Development Secretary, has announced a UK aid funding package of £250 million.

Rory Stewart, the Secretary of State for International Development greets a community member in Loyangalini, Kenya, 2019 (all pictures courtesy of UK Department for International Development)

Increasing temperatures and extreme weather across sub-Saharan Africa are having a profound impact on the lives and livelihoods of communities; this support aims to help countries build resilience to climate change and develop low carbon economies.

During his visit, the Member of Parliament (MP) saw first-hand what happens when we do not protect the planet, including damaged natural flood defences; arid, drought-stricken land; and wildlife, the environment and jobs put at risk. He highlighted how tackling climate change is a global problem, and taking on an issue which that affects everyone will also ultimately benefit the UK.

Over the next five years, the new £250 million UK aid package will ensure that UK expertise and experience can help developing countries become more climate resilient and move away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources.

Working in partnership with African governments, organisations and communities, this funding will be the Department for International Development’s (DFID) largest single direct climate investment ever in the continent.

During his visit to a drought-affected village in Marsabit County in northern Kenya on July 12, Mr Stewart said: “We are facing a global climate emergency. Polluted air, rising sea levels and increasing temperatures are felt by everyone in the world. We must all play our part to protect the environment, wildlife, vulnerable families and communities - and this includes investing in renewable energy.”

The International Development Secretary continued: “I am today announcing DFID’s biggest ever single direct aid investment in climate and the environment across Africa. This builds on my ambition to double DFID’s efforts on this issue globally. Tackling climate change is of direct benefit to everyone living on this planet, including, of course, in the UK.”

Rory Stewart is taken on a tour of Lamu Old Town, Kenya, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in July 2019

African nations are responsible for just two to three per cent of global emissions, but the continent is set to be the worst affected by the devastating impacts of climate change. Kenya is getting warmer and its rainfall becoming more uncertain.

In the coastal town of Lamu in southern Kenya, Mr Stewart heard about the importance of mangroves, which act as a vital natural flood defence protecting communities from storms. However, they are among the world’s most threatened vegetation and nearly 40 per cent of Lamu’s mangroves have already been destroyed.

The MP also visited the UNESCO World Heritage site Lamu Old Town, where he heard how UK aid will support sustainable development of the town. While there, he announced an additional £10 million towards DFID’s Sustainable Urban Economic Development programme to support urban economic growth in Kenya, which is resilient to climate-related shocks and disasters.

Meeting with communities in northern Kenya whose lives have been hit by drought, Mr Stewart announced an extra £4 million UK aid commitment to help prevent malnutrition and the threat of starvation for those living off arid lands in that country.

The effects of a changing climate and damage to the environment can already be seen in the village of Loiyangalani, near Marsabit County. In 2017, villagers experienced the worst drought for over five years, with people and livestock threatened by death, disease and starvation.

Wildlife and biodiversity is also under threat. Globally, one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. During a visit to Ol Pejeta conservancy in central Kenya, Mr Stewart saw the last two northern white rhino on the planet – a sub-species on the edge of extinction. The combination of cattle herders searching for food for their livestock and human conflict is having an impact on the habitats of rhinos – making them more vulnerable to extinction.

The Secretary of State for International Development is given a demonstration of cash transfer project in Loyangalini

UK aid is helping to preserve the environment where wildlife, such as the rhino, lives. It does this in part by helping cattle herders in Kenya to fatten up their cows in order to earn more from their livestock, while helping to manage the land where they graze, so they are not competing for grassland as with rhinos and other endangered species as intensely.

The UK is also working with African nations to deliver an ambitious move to efficient, low carbon technologies. An estimated 600 million Africans currently do not have access to electricity, but UK aid – through its development finance arm, CDC, and UK private sector investment – is helping to support Kenya’s renewable energy sector, by funding the development of the largest onshore wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa at Lake Turkana. 

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