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Bridging Climate Action Globally through Technology and Varieties of Science: Insights from the Narrative of Floods in Kenya and Germany

Fredrick Ogenga

Nairobi has been experiencing extreme weather patterns in line with warnings from the weatherman in the past few months. This trend, which is becoming an annual one, began last year. The extreme weather patterns were characterized by devastating droughts that affected the entire country with arid and semi-arid parts of the country worst hit. This led to food shortages and insecurity of biblical proportions that had politicians, led by Kenyan President William Ruto (a champion of climate action), calling for intercession through national prayers. Futhermore, the droughts led to the deaths of vulnerable women and children and contributed to the loss of livestock and crops, negatively affecting Kenya’s economic prospects through consequent high food prices/inflation. Fast forwarding to 2024, another extreme pattern occurred, this time characterized by heavy and long rainfalls that contributed to floods and mudslides that killed people in cities and villages[1]. This issue is, however, not specific to Kenya and was witnessed globally in places like Dubai and, most recently, Germany. 

The German case was an interesting one because it was an unusual occurrence. Of course, [2]such events are often sensationalized on media platforms, but it is critical to note that most of these stories have been a common feature in countries in the Global South. In a rare occurrence, media scenes of animals and property being swept away by floods in developed economies such as Germany and Dubai, as witnessed in developing economies like Kenya, was something to reckon. Is climate not the great equalizer? Does this then beg the question of what humanity can learn from these similar patterns of events at least as represented through news media outlets? What kind of agency does this master narrative in Kenya and Germany incite and what does it tell us about our culture, being and our own ingenuity? Are there possibilities for positive synergies across cultures, geographical spaces and tech/media environment for finding solutions for the future of humanity in a world ravaged by climate-induced disasters and other kinds of disasters? 


These are the tough questions we are now asking. In recent years, the most prominent of these challenges have been climate change, financial inequalities, political and social upheavals, and pandemics. Within this context, humanity continues to display a great level of ingenuity and resilience and has found innovative ways of coping and adapting for self-preservation, but not without challenges. What has been lacking is a higher level of cooperation across cultures and geographical spaces to take advantage of the potential benefits of cross-pollinating knowledge and expertise both at the local and global levels as experienced during the recent floods in Nairobi, Dubai, and the German city of Aaachen.

Climate Disasters in a Technologically Connected World

These three climate disasters serve as reminders to humanity that, in a seemingly technologically connected world, we are confronted with similar challenges no matter our ethnicity. This reality challenge the common racial superiority assumptions in global discourses which emerge in political conversations and are often defined by the boundaries between the global North and South in epistemic frameworks, where the North has plaid God, and the South catch up. Central to this conversation has been the idea of coloniality, and consequently, decoloniality and the emergence of global communication technologies which have been designed and exploited to maintain and sustain unequal power modalities[3].

Therefore, communication technologies are central in shaping and bridging global conversations around common climate action from a variety of epistemologies. Just like climate, they are possibly the other great equalizer in this context. For example, even though global media conglomerates have often represented Africa as home to disasters, sustaining a negative global image of Africa as a continent ravaged by disease and disaster such as floods, droughts and pandemics--as seen in recent floods in Kenya, this image cannot be sustained going forward. This is because it is inspired by coloniality of technology and knowledge whose power has now been diffused by--the emergence of global online communication systems driven by AI (machine learning and deep learning) such as social media platforms led by surfaces such as Facebook by Meta, attendant algorithms and Generative Pretrained Transformers (GPT) by companies such as Open AI. 

These systems have given room for contestation of such representations of Africa and within that, decoloniality. Technological systems that have fallen short of sustaining a colonial discourse amidst a changing global environment due to climate change and other genuine common human challenges must be resisted at all costs. And so, it would seem, climate change has disrupted the ideological lenses of Western journalistic frames when it comes to the positive image of the West juxtaposed against that of Africa, a win-win for universal journalistic objectivity and the spirit of Ubuntu (humanity) globally.

Consequently, news about floods are given equal treatment in Germany as they would otherwise not in comparison to news in ecologies in the Global South such as Kenya. The usual sensational narrative of disaster demonstrated by cows and other valuables being swept away by ravaging floods is a tired African narrative. and it is therefore a refreshing paradox to confront such images in the emerging narratives of the floods in Germany due to the questions incited therein. Is this then not a warning sign and a compelling reason for humanity to forge a united front, perhaps centered around the ‘we are in this together’ or Harambee (togetherness) spirit of pan-African philosophical epistemic underpinning?

Bridging Conversation In the Context of Global Threats

The idea is to extract the productive parts of the global North-South conversations to overcome colonial burdens. Due to the emerging common threats, for example, brought about by climate change, the traditional Global North-South conversations that have often centered on positionalities focused on coloniality of power dynamics, as witnessed in news representation of disasters, are certainly not going to be the same in the future and are becoming increasingly unsustainable. Climate change will create, and is beginning to shape, a new world living space for mankind.  Therefore, we need to find ways to cooperate with each other. So, it’s about knowing and creating a new collective order: a new human rights agenda, and an economic order that is fair enough for all people.

To bridge the climate action conversation globally through ways of knowing (gnosis/ varieties of science), there should be better engagement between people and the different conditions between ecologies for better understanding in different worlds to form collaboration, for example, to balance Co2 and energy transitions globally. Stakeholders need to find better ways of understanding and guard-railing energy transitions and other forms of transitions, be it political, economic, and socio-cultural in different ecologies by examining problem-centric cases such as climate change and many other topics and issues in different fields and countries that would animate varieties of science. By seeking to understand how to synergize technologically driven emergency responses to natural disasters such as drought, famine, floods and pandemics, as recently witnessed in different geographical spaces across cultures, humanity would be making a step in the right direction of self-preservation. For example, on the question of climate, what are the agencies and emerging different ways of knowing or gnosis and responding? What are the epistemic questions across cultures? and which kinds of knowledge are seen as important and prioritized? Which technologies across cultures are being exploited? Can technology help in early warning, early response? And how?


The agenda would begin with the more prominent challenge confronting humanity today which is, apparently, an environmental challenge brought about by climate change (as opposed to other human modern challenges) as the entry point to the varieties of science methodological approach. It could also begin as a window through which we can understand all other challenges and a point of departure in establishing how a more united approach to difficult scientific questions, that act as threat to the self-preservation of mankind (Ubuntu/ humanity), can be approached and co-designed in a manner that respects local cultures (Cultures of Research)[4] with several cross-cutting public problems or themes.


The approach would, therefore, focus on the intersection between technology, climate, and peacebuilding across cultures as an entry point to a global collaboration and research agenda. This would entail a technical, systematic and meta-analysis of the use of technology in climate mitigation across different ecologies and local Action Research in different ecologies in the Global North and South involving local communities to establish the gaps (gap analysis) and inspire practical interventions.  This would also entail an examination of how local communities are adapting to climate change challenges and opportunities, and the kind of resources at their disposal (technological or otherwise)[5]. This holistic evidence will reveal the level of human ingenuity in not only the climate change problematic, but also other serious challenges facing humanity and how tech innovations can be game-changers in adaptation, conflict resilience and peacebuilding for the self-preservation of humanity going forward. 

Defending Climate Science through Data

The varieties of science research agenda inspired by climate action can also look at how the devastating effects of climate change are inciting new policy interventions that are in turn attracting mitigation efforts (the political economy of interventions) from different actors (local and international, public, and private), particularly carbon credit programs (the Africa carbon boom for example) that are not gender and conflict sensitive.[6] Consequently, it could analyze how these mitigating efforts are impacting local communities in terms of livelihoods, how they are exacerbating conflict pressure points, and therein the role of digital technologies/tools (digital peacebuilding) in empowering communities into action for climate mitigation and adaptation. If this is properly done by relevant stakeholders, then communities would be in a better position to begin nurturing alternative livelihoods such as tree planting (greening), for conflict resilience and peacebuilding. The evidence from varieties of science methodological approach to Action Research[7] would therefore be used to contribute to the defense of climate science information as opposed to climate misinformation and disinformation on social media and tech spaces.  It will also help influence policy change around climate financing and community sensitive carbon credit investments in different ecologies going forward and inspire tech driven response mechanism to climate induced disasters such as the floods in Kenya and Germany. 

[1] Naidoo, D. and Gulati, M. 2022. Understanding Africa’s Climate and Human Security Risks. Policy Brief 170. October 2022. Institute for Security Studies; Tesfaye, B. 2022. Addressing Climate Security in Fragile Contexts. Center for Strategic and International Studies,

[2]Morley, D. 2007. Media, Modernity and Technology- The Geography of the New. London: New York: Routledge

[3]Freenberg, A. Democratic Rationalization: Technology, Power and Freedom. In Rober, C. and Dusek, V. (eds.) 2014. Philosophy of Technology –The Technological condition on Anthology 2nd Edition. Malden, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell; Godin, B., Gaglio, G. and Vinck, D. 2021. Handbook on Alternative Theories of Innovation. Cheltenham: Edward Elger Publishing

[4] Field, S. M., Thompson, J., De Rijcke, S., Penders, B., & Munafò, M. R. (2024). Exploring the dimensions of responsible research systems and cultures: a scoping review. Royal Society Open Science, 11(1), 230624: see link to publication on : see also

[5] Yayboke, E., Nzuki, C. and Strouboulis, A. 2022. Going Green while Building Peace: Technology, Climate and Peacebuilding. Center for International and Strategic Studies.

[6]Greenfield, P. 2023. The New Scramble for Africa: How a UAE Sheikh Quietly Made Carbon Deals for Forests Bigger than UK. The Guardian Thursday 10th November 2013

[7] McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J. (2005) All You Need To Know About Action Research. London: SAGE;

About the Author

Fredrick Ogenga

Fredrick Ogenga

Former Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding Scholar;
Associate Professor of Media and Security Studies, Rongo University and Founding Director, Center for Media, Democracy, Peace & Security (CMDPS).
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Africa Program

The Africa Program works to address the most critical issues facing Africa and US-Africa relations, build mutually beneficial US-Africa relations, and enhance knowledge and understanding about Africa in the United States. The Program achieves its mission through in-depth research and analyses, public discussion, working groups, and briefings that bring together policymakers, practitioners, and subject matter experts to analyze and offer practical options for tackling key challenges in Africa and in US-Africa relations.    Read more