Many in Kenya mistakenly view climate change as a remote and foreign phenomenon that should not bother them.
However, recent occurrences including recurrent drought, flooding and outbreaks of diseases such as Rift Valley Fever (RVF) and pneumonia should sound alarm bells on the direct threats of climate change to human health.
A new UN report, COP 24, shows that millions of people around the world die each year due to climate change related impacts, and an additional 250,000 deaths annually are expected to occur between the years 2030 and 2050.
The most direct link between climate change and ill health is air pollution, the UN says, pointing out that burning fossil fuels for power, transport and industry is the main source of the carbon emissions that are driving climate change and a major contributor to air pollution, which every year kills more than seven million people due to exposure at home and outside.
“There is a strong linkage between air pollution, climate change and health and it cannot be missed,” said Maria Neira, the director of Public Health at WHO.
“Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, lung cancer, stroke, those words need to be incorporated in all the documents and decisions made that are related to climate change,” she added.
Separate data by the UN and the Kenya Economic Survey 2018 confirm that air pollution has indeed become a big problem in the country.
An estimated 14,300 Kenyans die annually due to health conditions traceable to indoor air pollution, the most prominent of these being pneumonia.
According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, pneumonia has recently been the top killer, dislodging malaria, from 2015 to date. In addition, respiratory system ailments are the most common diseases in local health facilities.
The Economic Survey 2018 documents that the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) reported a bump of about 482 per cent in the number of environmental crimes committed from 66 in 2013 to 384 in 2017.
Furthermore, the 2017 Lancet Commission on pollution and health noted that Kenya suffered more than $1.88 billion in welfare damages from ambient and household air pollution, equivalent to about 3.05 per cent of gross national income.
A significant amount of air pollution has been tied to the transport sector, which is heavily reliant on fossil fuel-based vehicles, accounting for 11 per cent of global carbon emissions.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that last year, emissions from the transport industry rose by 460 million tonnes, to hit a record 32.5 gigatonnes. This was because at least 170 million fossil fuel-based cars were added to the global economy.
Compared with other regions, Africa experienced the second highest growth of absolute transport emissions (84 per cent) between years 2000 and 2016, driven primarily by increases in passenger and freight transport activity.
Transport emissions in Sub-Saharan Africa increased 75 per cent from 2000 to 2016 to a level of 156 metric tonnes (Mt) carbon, while transport emissions in Northern Africa increased 95 per cent during the same period, though at a lower absolute level of 135 Mt in 2016.
Total transport carbon emissions increased in major economies of Africa between the years 2000 and 2016, including 161 per cent in Algeria, 153 per cent in Ghana, 123 per cent in Kenya, 73 per cent in Egypt, 40 per cent in South Africa and 19 per cent in Nigeria.
In Algeria and South Africa, per capita emissions increased respectively by 100 per cent and 13 per cent, reaching levels of 1.0 and 0.89 tonnes CO2 per capita in 2016.
“The true cost of climate change is felt in hospitals and in lungs.
“The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.
“When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost.”
Private vehicles are the main means of transport worldwide, and the vast majority run on petrol or diesel, which contributes to poor air quality, and health impacts, particularly in cities.
“Increasing the use of public transport can significantly reduce GHG emissions and air pollution, by reducing emissions per person. Public transport run on clean fuels or electricity is associated with further health gains, decreasing cardiovascular and respiratory disease, traffic injuries and noise-related stress and associated mental health issues due to high-volume traffic,” the UN says.
“Encouraging active transport, particularly for short distances in cities, has the widest range of benefits for health and climate mitigation. It reduces not only air pollution but also sedentary lifestyles and may thus prevent some cancers, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity, which are increasing rapidly in rich and poor countries alike: an estimated 3.2 million people die every year from diseases associated with physical inactivity” it added.
The threats of climate change on health in Kenya, however, doesn’t stop at lung diseases and is also linked to the spread and recurrence of other ailments such as malaria and diarrhea.
Studies on the effect of climate change on health in Kenya also reported emergence and re-emergence of Rift Valley fever, leishmaniasis and malnutrition.
Kenya is already reporting changes in the prevalence of malaria around the country, with the disease increasingly moving into the highland areas, places it was never reported before.
Approximately 13 to 20 million Kenyans are reported to be at risk of malaria, with the percentage at risk potentially increasing as climate change facilitates the movement of malaria transmission up the highlands.
The global food production system is having an impact on human health amid rising cases of pollution.
Estimates by the UN showed that the global food production is a major source of soil and water pollution and uses more than 70 per cent of all fresh water and 40 per cent of land.
Most emissions are due to deforestation and livestock, soil and nutrient management.
“More sustainable, regenerative agricultural practices could not only reduce GHG emissions but also sequester carbon and protect and enhance biodiversity, soils, watersheds and broader ecosystem services,” it said.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.