An evaluation of the integration status for climate change adaptation within the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies in Kenya
Kamau, Julius W
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There is a general consensus within the scientific community that climate change is happening and it is altering the environment which provides the platform for development, through the occurrence of more extreme weather events. These extreme events are causing damages to . development projects resulting to huge socio-economic loses even though; such projects have been subjected to EIA. Therefore, a project requiring EIA is vulnerable to a changing climate, as are the communities and environment it poses a risk to; EIA should therefore consider the potential resilience, both to the anticipated negative impacts and positive opportunities of climate change on the proposed project. However, under the existing EIA processes possible impacts of climate change on the proposed development projects are not assessed. EIA in addition to mitigation to climate change, represent one of the few standardized global tool available to incorporate the effects of climate change into design of projects by forecasting the resulting changes of baseline and future conditions. At the same time, the methodology of the impact assessment process must evolve to better incorporate these climate change-related environmental impacts on projects. Hence, EIA's capacity for aiding in sustainable decisions could be strengthened if it has the capability to detect these changes and respond in anticipation, to the possible impacts of climate change on the proposed development projects. Therefore the objectives of the study were to establish the extent to which EIA studies takes into account climate change information, determine if the current EIA process is capable of adapting to climate change and provide a prospect measure of integrating climate change adaptation capabilities into Kenyan EIA process The data was collected through reviewing of relevant EIA reports from various regions and economic sectors in Kenya via a checklist and administration of questionnaires to a sample of EIA practitioners in the country. Both the secondary and the primary data obtained were reacessed and exploratory data analysis, specifically frequency analysis conducted to indicate distribution tendencies required in accurate description ofthe sample data. The results indicated that all the EIA reports regardless of their locality or development sector contained historical climate change information though not in the context of climate change and did not contain any climate change adaptive capabilities whether legal or methodological. However, the EIA practitioners considered integration of climate change adaptive capabilities into the EIA process relevant and important and were of the opinion that an EIA process capable of assessing impacts of climate change on the projects would be a more stronger decision making tool. Subsequently future interventions should be directed towards reviewing of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, 1999, EIA regulations and EIA guidelines 2003 to make both legal and methodological provisions for climate change impacts assessment. In addition, .researchers in collaboration with key environmental agencies to develop a framework for climate change integration into the EIA process. Finally, and in order to bring climate change debate to the EIA domain in Kenya, all the EIA practitioners to undergo training to enhance their competence in the area of climate change integration into the EIA process.