“Adapt sustainable development planning” to Address Climate Change: JRS Official in Africa

By 2050, it is projected that as many as 38.5 million people in East Africa will be forcibly displaced. Credit: JRS

An official of the Jesuits Refugee Service (JRS), an international refugee entity of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), has underscored the need to "adapt sustainable development planning” in addressing the effects of climate change.

In a Tuesday, June 28 report, the JRS Advocacy Coordinator of Eastern Africa region lists deforestation, flooding, drought and soil erosion as some of the observable effects of climate change in Africa.

“As a response to the welfare of climate-forced displacement and societies, the whole of society must adapt sustainable development planning to focus on the most vulnerable people, to protect and restore vitality to degraded environments,” Dee Dungy is quoted as saying in the June 28 report.

Mr. Dungy explains, “Environmental protection, and consequently sustainable development, require that both women and men be actively involved, including through daily activities aimed at preserving natural resources and through participation in local and high-level environmental decision-making.”

The JRS official says that the challenge of "climate change is not gender neutral" and that both women and men need to be on forefront in the fight against the environmental challenge.


“Climate change is not gender neutral, even though women are frequently responsible for securing safe water, food and energy for cooking and heating,” he says, adding that effects of climate change that mostly involve shortage of water subject women in Africa to much suffering as they are forced to travel long distances in search of water.

“With minimal access to information, and limited mobility outside their homes, women are more likely than men to die during natural disasters. They suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change,” Mr. Dungy says in the June 28 report.

He adds that a communal approach to climate change effects has the ability to “mitigate waste, and strengthen the involvement of women in environmental decision-making at all levels and the accessibility to relevant resources.”

He explains, “Climate change has observable effects in Africa, such as stressors from deforestation, flooding, drought, soil erosion, coastal storms, locust invasion, and shifting weather patterns that endanger ecological resilience.”

The JRS official goes on to highlight the effects of climate change in Africa and the need for the whole society to adapt to “sustainable development planning”, saying that the pressure is felt in both rural and urban places.

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“Climate change affects migration patterns as it thwarts crops, food production systems, water resources and places increasing pressure on rural and urban areas,” he says.

Making reference to the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Mr. Dungy says that “drylands occupy around 2 million km2 or respectively 90%, 75%, and 67% of Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.”

“The low level of precipitation and the high degree of variability limits the possibilities for rain fed crop production,” he further says, adding that the situation is likely to worsen and that more people will be affected by the effects of climate change in the coming years.

The official of the Jesuit entity continues, “More than 60 million people, or 40% of these countries’ population, live in drylands, and by 2025 this population is projected to increase to 90%.”

Reflecting on the World bank report that indicates a projection of over 38 million people in East Africa being displaced by 2050, Mr. Dungy emphasizes the need to protect “people on the move and reduce their vulnerabilities as an essential part of restoring dignity.”


He highlights some of the threats on Mount Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro regions in Kenya and Tanzania respectively, warning about the looming prolonged water shortage.

The JRS official says that not only has farming been adversely affected in the two East African contexts, but herding has also become a challenge due to climate change.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.