You are making climate crisis worse by throwing food away, experts say
Despite the clear skies over the village of Oloibortoto in Kajiado County, Letoo Kamangu trembles with fury at the sight of his failed vegetable patch.
It can no longer predict weather conditions accurately. âWhen I was young we could easily predict the weather. Now it is difficult to say what will happen to our crops and our animals, âexplains the 80-year-old woman.
âThe ancestors are angry,â he says, unable to understand global warming, the crisis that the annual UN-led climate change talks hope to address. The latest climate meeting (COP26) organized by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Glasgow, Scotland, earlier this month.
Meeting in hotels
But Kamangu says it’s all talk and not action. “How long will people be in big city hotels while we are in pain?” We have to repent to get everything back to normal, âhe said.
Kamangu is a victim and a skeptic. Researchers say tackling climate change in the face of denial and skepticism is a daunting task. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by mid-century one billion people will face food and water scarcity.
The head of climate finance and green economy at the National Treasury, Peter Odhengo, laments the lack of understanding of climate. âClimate skepticism is fueled by the business community who thinks the transition to a green economy will be expensive. Go to the rich economies and you will find oil barons set on their profit trajectories, âhe says.
Drought, high temperatures, flooding, high disease burden, poor harvests, unpredictable rains and land degradation are among the critical environmental challenges, with more than 250 million people affected in 100 vulnerable countries.
But following these climatic shocks, there is a rebound. Every banana, wheat kernel, sukuma wiki leaf, bean or corn cob you throw away leads to global warming.
Indeed, food systems contribute one third of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and yet two thirds of these are lost from farm to fork. Food losses that occur before harvest, after harvest, or during agricultural processing result in emissions, but do not contribute to food security or nutrition.
The report on the UNEP Food Waste Index and Waste Resources Action Program for 2021 shows that each Kenyan throws away an average of 99 kg of food each year, with the country wasting 5.2 tonnes per year. According to the researchers, this is a downside of climate warfare.
Thanks to a recently launched national food bank initiative, farmers in 47 counties are being educated about reducing waste and making better use of surplus crops, for example by donating to charities or ensuring better storage. Food Banking Kenya (FBK) âsavesâ food that would otherwise have gone to waste. The founders of the program say that in addition to conservation, they are motivated by the need to stem hunger and waste by bridging the gap between the excess food that would have been wasted and the need to bring the edible surplus to people. who need food assistance.
More than 4 million people in 17 countries are in need of food assistance. According to the Drought Management Authority, Kajiado, Turkana, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Baringo, Kilifi, Isiolo, Tana River, Kwale, Marsabit and Kitui are hungry amid a debilitating drought.
The gravity of the situation, which led President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare drought a national disaster on September 8, has been exacerbated by Covid-19 and could lead to social and economic tensions.
FBK runs anti-food waste campaigns targeting not only farmers but also manufacturers, producers, exporters and retailers. It started during a school feeding program in November last year, but branched out to focus on reducing waste through innovative production and harvesting.
âWe have established partnerships with farms, traders and packing plants. Since the start of the campaign, we have saved over 400,000 kg of fruit and vegetables, âsaid FBK Managing Director John Gathungu.
Once collected, the fresh farm produce is collected, sorted and redistributed to populations and regions in need. The group, which has storage facilities, supplements them with dry goods such as wheat flour, corn flour, sugar and sympathizers’ rice before distribution. âWe supply children’s homes, groups for the elderly, rescue centers and people with disabilities. We have adopted 34 children’s homes and are feeding 2,695 children per day with recovered food and supporters, âsaid Mr. Gathungu.
Gathungu, however, says that to end food loss, local communities must be educated about responsible purchasing, preparation, consumption, storage and disposal. Last week, FBK officials conducted an awareness campaign in Lari, Kiambu County, where they sensitized farmers.
Relax the rules
They made similar visits to Kajiado, Murang’a, Nakuru, Nyandarua and Nairobi to Githogoro, Soweto, Kayole, Dandora, Saika and Kariobangi. They organized an emergency mission to Turkana last month.
“For these efforts to bear fruit, the state should relax the rules on aesthetic standards for fruits and vegetables, in addition to promoting the redistribution of surpluses and offering tax incentives to entities that donate food. This will reduce waste, âhe adds.
Although the response has been impressive, Gathungu said, âInvesting in training, technology and innovation in food waste management is essential. ”
The team believe that with a change in attitude, the food waste that contributes to methane emissions from landfills, such as those prominently visible in Dandora, can be contained.
FBK has individual and corporate donors including Chandarana Supermarket, Biersdolf and the Global Food Banking Network.
But all is not gloomy. Kenya is one of the first countries to develop a national climate-smart agriculture strategy in 2017. It has secured $ 250 million (around 28 billion shillings) to support farmers in 33 counties.
âTo date, as part of the financing of climate actions carried out locally (Flloca) in the 47 counties, support for smart agriculture is at the heart of new climate programs. Today, 36 counties have adopted their climate change laws and policies, âOdhengo told The Standard yesterday.
âGreening Kenya Trust champions are raising awareness among villagers. Much is being done now, but more time and additional resources are still needed, âhe added.
Environmental lawyer Odete Oyieko says climate change is a cause multiplier, thanks to unpredictable trends. âFarmers have a role to play in reducing Kenya’s carbon footprint. This can only be achieved by reducing pollution, saving energy and promoting environmental awareness, âsaid Mr. Odete.