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Climate change: Why journalists must keep pressure on builders

Memories of a Daily Nation picture of a girl riding on the shoulders of an adult in Athi River’s Graceland estate during the April-May heavy rains may be fading away.

However, the media should do follow-up stories focusing on infrastructure developers such as civil engineers, planners, and architects. The purpose should include reminding them that climate change effects are here to stay, and they should carry out repair works, or design buildings, bridges, roads, dams, and other public utilities to withstand the anticipated effects of climate change that will only get worse.

Journalists should make a critical assessment at the destroyed infrastructures following the recent torrential rains, regarding past technologies and designs, and why such infrastructure may have failed to withstand extreme weather, such as ability of dams to hold large volumes of water, cases of swept bridges, sinking homes, and caving highway sections.

Journalists need to constantly update on weather preparedness, more so from the perspective of disaster management and improved infrastructure, which can protect lives and properties by meeting the highest standards.

For example, after security announced the closure of several roads rendered impassable by floods in Nairobi County, journalists should have been on the ground to find out what strategies if any, had been laid out to resolve the matter, thus preventing the problem from recurring.

Moreover, media has in the past highlighted the danger in failing to address the drainage system by the Nairobi County to cater for the huge city population. Indeed, the recent flooding has exposed the underbelly of poor planning in Nairobi and its adjacent counties of Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos.

The media should have more programmes on city and rural planners, build engineers and environmentalists, on their coordinated solutions to infrastructure set-up as some of the problems experienced in the urban areas are tied to rural settlements. 

Further, media should educate Kenyans to understand that no matter how best the infrastructure is improved to forestall climate-related disasters, personal responsibility is key.

This may sound simplistic; but where do you dispose of the wrapping paper, the maize cob, or the empty bottle, whenever you buy that caddy for juniors, pull by the roadside to buy that mouth-watering piece of roasted maize, or are drinking water from a plastic bottle?

The media could do a great job of enforcing personal responsibility by naming and shaming those caught on camera throwing waste anyhow or vandalising utilities and infrastructure.

Other effective ways would include media emphasising the need to have estate disaster marshals’ trainings on life-saving skills, focused on empowering individuals, school children and families to remain alert and respond to disasters including floods, fire, and heat waves.

Finally, media should educate people upstream that, cultivating along river basins, loosening the soil, and clearing vegetation lead to erosion, eventually contributing to flooding in the lower basin.

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