Family A lives in Isiolo. They are pastoralists to the bone and that is a life they have known since the sun hit their eyes. Weather patterns have been changing. Their ground has become more parched than ever before. Their nomadic lifestyle used to come in handy as they could move to greener areas to get pasture for their animals, but this doesn’t work lately as the rain has eluded them.
Lately, the weather pattern has become unpredictable. Animals are becoming weaker by day, some die and others have to be disposed of at an insane price. A cow that would cost Sh40,000 is being sold at Sh500, which is a loss of Sh35,000. The country’s inflation has now shot to 9.6 per cent as at October. The inflation cuts across the country and does not spare drought-stricken families. If family A sells 10 cows at that throw-away price and loses 70 other cows, they lose millions of shillings.
In climate change, Loss and Damage may seem self-explanatory, but it has to be linked to losses that could not be avoided by any mitigation or adaptation measures; these are either solutions to prevent greenhouse gas emissions or ways to cope with the impacts of climate change, respectively.
Sometimes, these losses could be in terms of tangible finances and other times, it could be non-economic. For the family in Isiolo, it could have both economic and non-economic scenarios of loss and damage. When they don’t get value for a cow they have raised for years, then that means that their coffers will be empty. The non-economic Loss and Damage scenario, in this case, is when they lose their culture. As pastoralists, when they have no cattle to keep, what then will their life be like?
Family B on the other hand has lived near Lake Baringo all their lives. In 2020 the rising lake displaced them and destroyed their home. They had to bow down to nature and move, not with their houses, but only a few things that they needed. Their land is not theirs anymore. Their house is now a structure submerged by the lake. Some of their animals died. They left their dead kin’s graves. What a loss, how damaging!
These two scenarios happen because of climate change, and such losses and damages are the reason countries in the global South like Kenya were calling for climate related reparations during the just concluded COP27.
Africa contributes to less than four per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, but it faces the worst impact of climate change.
While it was a tussle to include Loss and Damage as the main agenda, it felt like a little victory to have it in there finally. That only meant that it could now be discussed as an important issue on climate change.
The rich countries have now agreed to compensate nations suffering the damages like that of Family A and B under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This story was originally published on The Nation, with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.