In a time of lofty global goals and big initiatives and commitments, at the International Center for Humanitarian Affairs (ICHA) in Kenya, we argue that sometimes, local and small is more.
In the wake of a tumultuous 2023, Kenya stands at a critical juncture as it grapples with the aftermath of severe droughts, El Niño disruptions, and a concerning cycle of floods. The impact of these disasters are poised to escalate in 2024, as they are in many other countries and regions of the world. The cascading effects of these manifest in issues such as heightened water-borne diseases, escalating air pollution, and economic reverberations at every stratum of society, among many others.
While global discussions on climate change persist, tangible actions on the ground remain insufficient to address the pressing challenges faced by communities. The forthcoming year will witness an exacerbation of damages, with a surge in water-borne diseases caused by blocked drainage systems and stagnant water, escalating air pollution with urban settings getting more dense around industries, and economic repercussions felt across income levels, including an increase in the costs of basic living, likely to hit lower and middle income people hardest.
The impacts of these are acutely felt at the ground level, where children miss school due to disease outbreaks, teenage pregnancies correlated with economic challenges and increases in crime, leaving many families torn apart and youth imprisoned or in contact with the criminal justice system for minor offenses.
The results and discussions from COP28 are to be implemented in the coming year, but will they address the community needs and challenges?
The complex impacts of the persistent and intense droughts punctuated by destructive volumes of rainfall, diminished crop yields, livestock quality, economic stability, and in turn, malnutrition rates in 2024 will cause immense struggle among many communities, families in Kenya are poised to face desperate situations. The results and discussions from COP28 are to be implemented in the coming year, but will they address the community needs, their concerns, their challenges? Or will the activities strain the community, exhaust resources, document as usual and close the year with ‘we tried’?
As a continent, Africa will thrive in the space of business and entrepreneurship, but what portion of this will be local investments, or quality employment? While we often acknowledge and fund broad and lofty objectives, we frequently overlook the immediate needs of communities in the local country context, following legal obligations to global or regional accords with little relation to the priorities of local scenarios.
There is a promising opportunity for the introduction of entrepreneurship models aimed at climate change adaptation
The Red Cross and Red Crescent (RCRC) Movement in the region must double down on its focus toward community-centric solutions. Prioritizing local needs over the broader international climate action narrative is paramount. There is a promising opportunity for the introduction of entrepreneurship models aimed at climate change adaptation. Empowering locals through the development of innovative, localized solutions and facilitating investments will be key to weathering the storm. With a platform to create opportunities but also link youth and other community members across counties to serve the immediate needs in the country. Improved income models and livelihoods will improve choice of food, education, health care facilities, and future stability.
As the RCRC Movement, there will be a transformation, from aid delivery and cash disbursement, to skills transfer, linkages to opportunities, guidance on self employment and entrepreneurship where empowering an individual leaves an impact on the community. National societies must say no to international products and services that can be locally accessed, turning local economic challenges into opportunities.
The vast geographical spread of Kenya necessitates a tailored approach, acknowledging the diverse challenges faced by different communities. Engaging local youth and volunteers not only in program implementation but also in the design of interventions is crucial in 2024. This ensures that local solutions can thrive from ideation to prototyping and piloting.
Innovation and research centers will play a pivotal role in incentivizing initiatives with locally designed solutions to address emerging climate-related needs. The year 2024 we hope will witness a transformative shift in climate dialogue within Kenya particularly addressing the localisation agenda more aggressively, bringing together diverse stakeholders—from local and international practitioners to government bodies, private sectors, innovators, academia, research institutes, and climate activists. This year will be all about community empowerment, building resilient societies not only to natural disasters, but also man-made disasters, as the impact of economic instabilities is seen across every household.
Developing local innovations ensures we are not only listening to the local needs, but also local potential
Climate related disasters are now inevitable and will likely be with us forever, however, community participation and engagement for impactful interventions will prove to be more practical and useful for those suffering. Developing local innovations ensures we are not only listening to the local needs, but also local potential.
It is a year that calls for unified, concerted efforts to safeguard communities, foster resilience, and pave the way for a sustainable future amidst the challenges posed by climate change. Small interventions unique to the norm of humanitarian work are important in order to ensure the negative results of the disaster are shortened, if not, the suffering will continue, regardless of the millions spent. Organisational transformation within the RCRC is needed, and is equally inevitable, with a call to ensure leaders champion the new thinking and emerging needs of the communities at the center of our Humanitarian world.
Want to explore emerging issues and shape actionable insights?
Download the IFRC Solferino Academy Strategic Foresight Book now!!
Access tips, tricks and tactics to explore the future. Change the way you think about the possibilities, use your creativity to enhance analysis, run effective workshops, and turn your ideas into action!