Said Mohamed Rhova’s rugged face outlines the life of a hardened pastoralist. Rhova, a resident of the volatile Tana River delta, comes from the predominantly pastoral Orma community. He lives in the same neighbourhood with the Pokomo who eke out a living cultivating around the delta.
Life here depends on the ebb and flow of the Tana River that mostly results in prolonged droughts on one hand and severe flooding on the other, consequences of climate change perpetuated by people Rhova will never know.
We met Rhova two weeks ago during a visit to the delta, the same week a high level meeting on climate change, the Fourth United Nations Environmental Assembly, was taking place in Nairobi.
“I hope they talk about how people in Nairobi are ruining our lives down here,” he told us. “I hear they are building next to rivers, causing droughts like this.”
While Rhova may not have all the details, the built environment has been cited as one of the key contributors to global climate change.
According to United Kingdom’s Design Council, “the construction and use of the built environment currently accounts for around half of carbon emissions”.
Though statistics on the extent to which the built environment contributes to climate change in Kenya are hard to come by, local experts say the sector is playing catch-up with the developed world in speeding up climate change.
“There is a direct connection between urban construction and climate change. There are carbon emissions through burning of fuels for vehicles and cooking,” says Mairura Omwenga, the chairperson of the Town and County Planners Association of Kenya.
In addition, Mairura says that with more people migrating to urban areas, cities are the greatest consumers of natural resources such as water, gobbling up such resources at a faster rate than can be replenished. However, it is in the construction where immediate effects of climate are being felt.
“Our buildings are occupying more and more footprint. We are paving the remaining surfaces, leaving no space to absorb excess runoff water. Such water ends up flooding the city. The perennial floods in low-lying areas such as Tana River are caused by excess runoff water that cannot be absorbed due to loss of ground cover,” says Omwenga.
Environmental design expert Kimeu Musau says while the increase in urban population is a major factor in climate change, poorly designed buildings, failure to use locally available and sustainable materials has not helped the cause of climate change.
Musau says a sustainable building is one whose construction and lifetime of operation assures the healthiest possible environment and represents the most efficient and least disruptive use of land, water, energy and resources. “Non-environmentally friendly buildings produce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute towards climate change. Such greenhouse gases allow shortwave radiation to strike the earth without escape, thus warming the climate further. This is how we talk of global warming that affects traditional weather patterns around the earth,” he says.
The remedy? “Build environmentally-conscious buildings, those that have no negative impact on the environment,” he says.
Interestingly, the week-long Nairobi meeting hardly addressed the effects of the built environment on climate change, the jargon too much to decode for people like Rhova who are currently riding the wave of climate change.
One resolution invited member states and other stakeholders to “promote the development and strengthening of sustainable financing mechanisms, such as green bonds, to promote inclusion of sustainability in business for the uptake and upscaling of sustainable business approaches, including but not limited to green business practices”.
The closest the resolutions came in acknowledging the role people like Rhova play in mitigating climate change is by recognising the role “indigenous people and local communities play in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity”.
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The resolution added that such indigenous people and local communities are “disproportionately impacted by biodiversity loss and land degradation, and should therefore be meaningfully engaged, taking into account their importance for climate change adaptation”. Even Kenya’s Climate Change Act is silent on the role the built environment has on climate change or solid mitigation measures.
As our urban areas expand and wipe out all traces of open ground, people like Rhova will only watch as rivers such as Tana continue to wreak havoc through floods or change course and leave former wetlands bare.
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.