There are two main policy responses to climate change: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation addresses the root causes, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while adaptation seeks to lower the risks posed by the consequences of climatic changes. Both approaches will be necessary, because even if emissions are dramatically decreased in the next decade, adaptation will still be needed to deal with the global changes that have already been set in motion.
Humans have been adapting to their environments throughout history by developing practices, cultures and livelihoods suited to local conditions. However, climate change raises the possibility that existing societies will experience climatic shifts (in temperature, storm frequency, flooding and other factors) that previous experience has not prepared them for.
Adaptation measures may be planned in advance or put in place spontaneously in response to a local pressure. They include large-scale infrastructure changes – such as building defenses to protect against sea-level rise or improving the quality of road surfaces to withstand hotter temperatures – as well behavioral shifts such as individuals using less water, farmers planting different crops and more households and businesses buying flood insurance.
I am interested to document stories where the adaptation to climate change has manifested itself with a real lifestyle change.
Today Turkana County is home to a rapidly growing population that is among the poorest in Kenya, the population is predominately indigenous Turkana people, and pastoral, relying on livestock herding. Some Turkana fish in the waters of Lake Turkana, while others reside in the county’s towns. Their traditional reliance on natural resources for food and livelihood, the historic marginalization of the region, and the lack of infrastructure make them especially vulnerable to any changes in the environment. In Turkana county air temperature have increased by about 3 degrees between 1967 and today, the long rainy season has become shorter and dryer and the short rainy season has become longer and wetter, while overall annual rainfall remains at low levels.
During these droughts, the Turkana ethnic group who were mostly pastoralist were pushed closer to the lake. They gradually adapted their lifestyles to depend upon fishing, despite it previously being a livelihood looked down upon. Now the lives of the people in this area depend directly on fish or fishing. Fishing now forms a core part of local livelihoods, and fish are sold regionally – among other places, in Nairobi, the Rift Valley, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Uganda.
Hydropower and irrigation developments underway on the Omo River, upstream in Ethiopia, portend ecological collapse of the lake and fisheries, and threaten the delicate survival means of already resource-scarce communities.
[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”1″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails” override_thumbnail_settings=”1″ thumbnail_width=”150″ thumbnail_height=”100″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ images_per_page=”25″ number_of_columns=”4″ ajax_pagination=”0″ show_all_in_lightbox=”0″ use_imagebrowser_effect=”0″ show_slideshow_link=”1″ slideshow_link_text=”slideshow” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]