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Nairobi Workshop Examines Impact of Environmental, Climate Change on Migration

Kenya -  A three-day European Union (EU)-funded capacity building workshop for policy makers and practitioners working in the field of migration, environment and climate change kicked off in Nairobi yesterday (10/8).

The workshop, designed to help vulnerable communities to cope with environmental and climate change and adapt through migration, was organized by IOM, in close collaboration with Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority.

The Authority seeks to address environmental challenges facing Kenya, which for years has suffered massive displacements of people, due to the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters and environmental degradation.

The workshop precedes the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21, which will take place in Paris in December 2015. The Convention will address the integration of human mobility into the expected Paris Agreement.

Attendees include over twenty participants from academia, government and civil society organizations, who will discuss the inclusion of environmental change in migration policies at national and regional levels. Germany’s Bielefeld University – part of a consortium advising Kenya in this field – is the key resource institution.

In Kenya, pastoralists are at a higher risk of displacement as land resources shrink and rain-fed agriculture becomes untenable. Urbanization is also placing additional pressure on the environment and resources, with the urbanization rate for the next five years predicted at 4.15 per cent.    

IOM Kenya Chief of Mission Michael Pillinger highlighted the severity and frequency of flooding and drought that has increased in recent years, forcing more people to relocate to other regions or urban areas.

“From 2004 to 2006, an estimated 3.5 million people were affected by drought in Kenya. The agricultural sector still employs 80 per cent of the Kenyan population residing in rural areas,” he noted.

Other topics under discussion include incorporation of migration in environmental and development policies, and strategies for adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction. Facilitating information exchange among the policymakers and practitioners on migration, environment, climate change and adaptation will also be discussed. 

Among the expected outcomes of the workshop are an action plan for policies to transform voluntary and forced movements of people into well-managed human mobility that will foster the resilience of individuals and communities to cope with environmental and climate changes.

The workshop is taking place in the framework of the project “Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy (MECLEP)”, which is funded by the European Union and the IOM Development Fund. Kenya is among the six countries where the project is being piloted, together with the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam. 

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Jo De Backer
11 August 2015

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