Climate Variability Is Universally
Climate variability is universally accepted in the scientific community as the most complex and a major challenging environmental problem facing human kind today globally (UNEP, 2014). Increased evidence in frequency of extreme climatological events is now more certain than ever (Hartmann et al., 2013; Adhikari et al., 2015). The expected impacts manifest in the form of long droughts, floods, storms, and high atmospheric temperatures (Naanyu, 2013).Past records show a rise in global temperature since the late 19th century and the last three decades are reported to be successively warmer than all previous decades. The 21st century in particular has been said to be the warmest of all (IPCC, 2014).
Averagely, global temperature has increased by 0.72°C since 1950 (Hartmann et al., 2013). According to studies carried out by Collins et al. (2013) and Kirtman et al. (2013), IPCC speculates an increase in temperature between 0.3°C and 0.7°C in the coming two decades and its projected to increase to a range above tolerance (Afeyo et al., 2015). Increase in temperature is additionally coupled with changes in hydrological cycle components, for instance rise in vapor, fluctuation in rainfall, changes in extreme events such as prolonged droughts, decrease in snow cover and melting of ice, and changes in soil moisture content and runoff (Hartmann et al., 2013). Rainfall has greatly increased from 1900 to the 1950 between 30°N and 85°N latitude and has also increased between 10°N to 30°N, but has dropped after 1970 to present (Adhikari et al., 2015).
Climate variability is increasingly perceived as one of the greatest challenges for food security and yet food is a very vital human right (WFP, 2009).Inadequate food consumption has serious implications for general body health and well-being, growth, development and cognitive ability among children, and labour productivity (Kirimi et al., 2013). Globally, 842 million people are food insecure and this figure adds to one eight people in the world. 30 out of the 44 countries of the 842 million food insecure population is in Africa and the number in SSA was projected to rise to 300million people in 2010 where one in four people suffer chronic hunger (FAO, IFAD and WFP 2014; FAO, 2015).
Like many SSA nations, Kenya has encountered a number of food deficit incidences. About a third of Kenya‘s population is considered to be food insecure (USAID, 2013).Currently, it is estimated that 10 million Kenyans are food insecure and between two and four million people require emergency food with3.2 million Persons living in marginal areas, 850,000 school going kids,150,000 displaced persons and 2.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS (Wambua et al., 2014;Owino et al., 2014). A recent report published by Ng’ang’a, (2015) shows that Kenya is listed among the 15 countries most at risk of food insecurity according to World Food Program Food Security Index. Results from a paper published by Wakibiet al.(2015) shows that67 % of the Kenyan households are food secure, 30 percent are food insecure, meaning that they lack access to enough food to sustain an active, healthy life for all members of their households
Climate variability effects are global and local, and will affect agricultural food systems globally.Studied carried out by Oxfam (2013), shows that the changing climate is already jeopardizing gains in the fight against food insecurity, and it looks set to worsen. It threatens the production and distribution of food. It threatens people’s ability to access food by undermining livelihoods and destabilizing prices, and it damages diets by harming human health and putting at risk the quality of food produced.Owing to the intensity and frequency in which the extreme events such as droughts, floods, storms and climate-related plant diseases, among many other factors, continually occurs (Phiiriet al., 2016), food security continues to remains a far-fetched dream for many people particularly in the Sub-Saharan Africa because agriculture is highly dependent on climate(Adane et al., 2015).
Changes in rainfall patterns and shifting temperature zones are expected to have adverse negative effects on agriculture (Mburu et al., 2015). These impacts can either increase or decrease crop production (Porter et al., 2014) and they can be separated into temporal and spatial trends at regional scales (Nam et al., 2015). In high latitudes, warmer temperatures lead to longer growing seasons and an increase in potential agricultural land (Mueller et al., 2015). The latest report of IPCC (2014) indicates that, some areas have witnessed increased precipitation from 1900 to 2005 for example United States of America, northern parts of Europe and northern and central Asia regions, others have recorded a decrease such as the Sahel, the Mediterranean, southern Africa and southern Asia. Africa will be hit worst especially poor and vulnerable people in rural areas (Boru and Koske, 2014)due to high dependence on natural resource base and other stresses and this situation could worsen when a 4 °C warmer climate is reached (World Bank, 2012; Connolly-Boutin and Smit, 2015).
Climate Variability impacts are projected to decrease the general yields of cereal crop through shortening of growing seasons, magnify water stress and amplify occurrence of pests, diseases and weed outbreak (Niang et al., 2014), such assessments concentrate on the likely effects of anticipated changes in average rainfall and temperature on crop yields (World Bank, 2009). Studies carried out by Bita and Gerats (2013) shows that heat stress during flowering and grain filling stages end up decreasing grain count and weight, leading to low crop yield of low quality. Additional work by Teixeira et al. (2013) explains further that, even short length heat shock will scale back crop yield substantially, particularly if it coincides with the reproductive stage.
Overall crop yields in many parts of Africa will fall by 10–20 % up to 2050 owing to warming and drying notably in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries, (Omoyo et al., 2015).Net crop revenues could fall by 90% by 2100 (Boko et al., 2007). Extreme rainfall varies; with high intensity, few occurrences, and poor spatial and temporal distribution have a direct impact on soil productivity hence low yields (Naanyu, 2013). Rainfall failure as well could mean loss of major livelihood source that always accentuate food shortage (Icheria,2015).
Due to this, there is need to promote synergy between climate adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture sector (Icheria, 2015) to attempt and improve resilience to future and uncertain climate impacts. This will enable the vulnerable to mitigate and cope with climate change effects generated by the interaction of food security and climate change. It is against this background this study focuses on examining selected climate variables (Rainfall and temperature) and their effects on food security in the Oloolua area of Kajiado County.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Ensuring food security amidst climate variability is at the top of the agenda in all developing nations. Kenya like other developing nations, climate is expected to warm across all seasons during this century (Naanyu, 2013). Climate variability will lead to increased variation in weather patterns primarily between seasons and years. This is backed up by data of over 50 years from Kenya Meteorological Department that shows the effects of variability in the country (GoK, 2010). Long-term changes in the patterns of the temperatures and precipitations are expected to shift production seasons, pests and diseases patterns, increase water stress and modify the set of crops affecting production (Amwata, 2013).
Increased climatic uncertainty means food production will become less predictable and this will have adverse effects upon food security (FAO, 2010).Extreme weather events including higher temperatures and more variable precipitation are already having significant consequences on food security in the country (Nga’ng’a, 2015). Increased temperature and change in precipitation that come as a result of climate variability are anticipated to further stress marginal areas that are currently under agriculture (Babadoye et al., 2014).
Household food insecurity in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid regions comprise of 88% of Kenya’s total land area and are dominated with rain fed agriculture (Icheria et al., 2015).Currently, it is estimated that 10 million Kenyans are food insecure and between two and four million people require emergency food (Wakibi et al., 2015). This number includes 3.2 million persons in ASAL parts of Kenya (Wambua, 2014) and Kajiado County happens to be in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid region. The contribution of climate variability to food insecurity in this area is not yet fully understood. Thus, the study on the effects of climate variability on food security in Oloolua area, Kajiado County was deemed necessary.