Climate Change in Tana River County

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Source: Tana River County Development Planning Office 2012

MAP OF TANA RIVER COUNTY. Note that River Tana is the eastern border of the County. River Tana flows into the Indian Ocean through the Tana Delta.

What is the climate in Tana River County?

Tana River County has a hot and dry climate. Average annual temperatures are about 300C. The highest midday temperature may be above 400C around January-March. The lowest temperature is around 200C in June-July. In the forests along the river it may be a little cooler. There are two rainy seasons in a year. The long rains are usually in April and May, and the short rains in November. Rainfall is low and varies from year to year.

What is the difference between Climate and Weather?

Weather is the state of the air around us at one time. For instance, it may be hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. When you wake up in the morning you may wonder what the weather is like outside. If it is raining you might carry an umbrella. Climate is the average pattern of weather for a particular region. Climate includes temperature, rainfall, and wind. • •

What is the climate where you live? What is the weather like today?

Human Action and Environment Over the last few thousand years, people have tried to control their environment. We have cultivated plants and domesticated animals. We have changed the course of rivers, built bridges and dug canals. Tana River County has a population of more than 280,000 people. The population is expected to increase to 300,000 by 2018. This means that more food,

Planting of rice in Tana River Delta. PHOTO BY E. UTUMBI

water, fuel, houses, health services and education will be needed. People want a comfortable lifestyle. To provide for this lifestyle, people dig for fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal and natural gas. When we burn these fuels in vehicles or factories, they give off heat and also gases. One of the gases is called carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide can be written as CO2. (That means one atom of carbon and two atoms of oxygen.) Carbon dioxide is produced when we burn wood, charcoal, diesel, petrol or other fuels. Because today we burn more fuel, however, we produce more carbon dioxide.



Some of the released heat is trapped by the layer of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

Release of absorbed heat by earth

Emission of CO2 by vehicles, industries and other human activities (Air Pollution)

CO2 uptake by plants (Photosynthesis)

CO2 production by plants and animals (Respiration)

CO2 uptake by the Ocean


Greenhouse Gases

Carbon dioxide and methane gases are found in nature. Animals breathe out carbon dioxide, and plants use carbon dioxide to make food. Cattle produce methane when they digest their food. Methane is also released when we plough land.

THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap heat, keeping the earth warm.

Some sunlight that hits the earth is reflected. Some is absorbed and becomes heat.


Sometimes we call carbon dioxide and methane “greenhouse gases”. Greenhouses are shelters made of glass or plastic. They are built by farmers to protect certain crops. A greenhouse built of plastic lets in sunshine and the air inside warms up. At night, the heat is trapped inside the greenhouse by the plastic covers. The same thing can happen around the Earth. The gases produced by burning fuels gather into layers high around the Earth. These layers of gases let in the sun’s rays, but stop some of the heat from escaping the earth. This can lead to Global Warming. Fortunately, natural habitats such as forests, grasslands and wetlands can absorb some of the greenhouse gases. Our forests, grasslands and wetlands help to keep our environment healthy. What fuel did your family burn to cook food yesterday?

Effects of Climate Change

One result of Climate Change is global warming. There has been a small rise in temperature all over the Earth. That is why world leaders met in 2015 and agreed to stop global warming. This will be done by protecting forests, burning less fuel, and using new technologies. Another effect of Climate Change is unpredictable weather. That means there will be more heavy rains, and also longer droughts. There may be more storms. How does Climate Change affect Tana River County? Effects of climate change in the County include: • More droughts: When there is a drought, cattle have less grass, and crops do not grow. Some of the oxbow lakes near the river may dry up. • More floods: Heavy rains in central Kenya will cause River Tana to flood. Some flooding is good, bringing new soil. Heavy flooding, however, can cause great damage. • Poor health: during a drought, children may suffer from malnutrition. During times of flooding, there may be more waterborne diseases. • Environmental change: Some wildlife may move in search of food. There may be more storms along the seashore.

An aerial view of a flooded village in Garsen, Tana River County. PHOTO BY AP

What can we do about Climate Change?

We can try to reduce Climate Change. This is called mitigation. Some examples: People need to produce less carbon dioxide and methane. Energy-saving jikos use less fuel. Solar panels can produce electricity without burning any fuel. Kenya can promote renewal energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal power. People need to conserve the natural habitats that provide ecological services. Plants take carbon dioxide from the air. Let’s protect our forests, grasslands and wetlands, so they can take up the greenhouse gases. Let’s conserve mangrove forests to reduce the force of sea storms and sea surges. Some of the effects of Climate Change are already here. So we need to learn to live with it. This is called adaptation. Adaptation to Climate Change: • Plant trees at home and at school. Trees take carbon dioxide from the air and shade us from the heat of the sun. They help to catch rainfall and reduce soil erosion. • Start a tree nursery for the school, Play your part in greening the nation, and providing a renewable source of energy. • Harvest rainwater. If you build a house with a metal roof, collect the rainwater from the roof and store it in containers. • Plant a variety of food crops, cash crops and fodder for livestock, so that at least some will survive. • Use some of the traditional crops that were resistant to droughts and floods. • Keep livestock herds small by selling some animals for meat, before drought hits. • Build houses on high ground, away from River • Tana floods. • Think of ways to practice 3Rs: Recycle, Reduce and Reuse: Use plastic bottles to drip water on your planted trees. Waste water from washing utensils can be used to water plants. Watch out, however: motor oils and plastic are not good for the environment. Bury plastics and waste motor oils.

Published by Nature Kenya - the East Africa Natural History Society P.O. Box 44486 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya Tel: (+254) (0) 20 3537568, 0751 624312, 0771 343138 Email:

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