NAIROBI - The third annual East African Health and Scientific conference got underway, yesterday, with officials warning of food insecurity and deterioration of peace in the region if climate change effects are not immediately checked.
The three-day conference taking place in the Kenyan capital Nairobi aims at addressing the challenges, and charting a way forward for EAC partner states in curbing the after effects of climate change.
Health Minister Dr Richard Sezibera called for more documentation and research work in the field, urging partner states to avail support to researchers so that they come up with tangible results and making appropriate predictions.
“As we invest in research, we should look at it being turned into policies and programmes that will benefit the people of East Africa,” Sezibera who is also the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers of Health said.
According to participants, the effects climate change to East Africa are a result of pollution from gases in some industrialized countries in the west which have impacted more on developing countries.
They also decried the inadequate information to enable early warning systems and called for more capacity building measures and partner states coming up with national strategies on prevention of the effects.
“The link between research findings and policy formulation is still very weak in our region. It is common to find useful research accumulating in dust in some research institutions, while researchers grapple with inadequate research,” Beth Mugo, Kenya’s public health and sanitation minister said.
East Africa is already hit hard by climatic effects with some parts of Kenya going dry without water. As people search for water, this has led to ethnic conflicts as they enter other locations where it can be found.
Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka warned that unless there are serious decisions taken now, the changing rainfall patterns would hit hard many of the low developing countries and thus leading to food insecurity.`
Prof James Ole Kiyiapi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Medical Services in Kenya, East African partner states have not done enough in terms of influencing decisions at international forums on effects of climate change.
“As we cry of climate changes in the region, many of our people are burning down our forests. Something must be done because this directly hinders us from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he said.
The fourth East African Scientific Conference will take place in Kigali in March next year. Held rotationally, the first conference took place in Uganda while the second one took place in Tanzania.