Locally Led Climate Actions

Due to climate-smart agriculture, farmers have since recorded improved yields and guarantee produce in all seasons.

Kenya has a landmass of 582,350 km2. Of this land, only 17% is arable. The remaining 83% is classified as arid and semi-arid land (ASAL). Kenya’s ASALs are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to the highest incidence of poverty found in these areas.

Local communities are on the frontlines of climate change impacts, yet rarely do they and other local actors have a voice in the decisions that most affect them. Locally led climate actions denote that local actors have greater power and resources to build resilience to climate change.

Various communities have devised strategies to enhance their resilience to adapt to the vagaries of climate change. Some of the locally-led solutions have been highlighted below.


Innovative Water harvesting in Makueni County

Makueni County is generally dry and faced with an acute water shortage that has a direct impact on its economic development. It is estimated that the average distance to a water point is currently 5 kilometres. This is attributed to periodic cyclical droughts and shrinking water sources due to encroachment and degradation of water watersheds/ towers, uncontrolled sand harvesting, and limited awareness of water harvesting and management among the populace.

The farmers in Makueni applied effective rainwater harvesting techniques, which secured their water security and improved food production. The sand dams have increased the water supply for the farmers in the county, which in turn has improved water and food security. Some of the innovative water harvesting techniques include Zai pits and rainwater harvesting ponds combined with efficient water applications such as drip-irrigation systems. The water is used for watering the mangoes, tree nurseries and tomato farms.


 Photo courtesy of Hivos



Participatory rangeland management (PRM) in the counties of Isiolo, Wajir, Marsabit Garissa, and Marsabit

The mainstay of the ASAL counties of Isiolo, Wajir, Marsabit Garissa, and Marsabit is pastoralism and livestock rearing. Community members used to travel long distances and go for many days in search of pasture and water for their animals. Compounded by the effects of climate change, most rangelands have either been left bare or heavily infested with undesirable and invasive bush species.

The community members embraced the PRM model to address the challenges of pasture. They divided the rangelands into three grazing areas, namely wet, dry, and drought grazing areas. The wet grazing area is where communities graze during the rainy season, then move to the dry grazing area, where there are shallow wells and river banks. When the shallow wells have no water, they move with their animals to the drought grazing areas when the drought becomes severe.

Rangeland management helps in the proper utilisation of the grazing fields by ensuring there is pasture throughout the year. Since water and pasture are available, community members can engage in other economic ventures, take care of their families and ensure their children are going to school without having to move with animals.

The vast majority of these rangelands are situated on communal rather than private land and are managed collectively by the people who live there. The PRM model focuses on how communities manage and plan their grazing, and rangeland governance issues, and how to work closely with neighbouring communities and better manage their rangelands. Most of the conflict in the communities in the ASALs is resource-based, and the PRM approach also seeks to tackle these issues, by working closely with the county governments.


Climate-smart farming in various parts of the country

The agriculture sector as a whole directly contributes 26% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides employment to millions of Kenyans. Over the years, climate change has affected the sector as evidenced by prolonged droughts, erratic rainfalls and low levels of rivers. As farmers depended on rainfed agriculture for long, they registered losses when rains failed.

Climate-smart agriculture has revised this trend. Farmers in Laikipia have installed a water harvesting system, and diversified crops, including the addition of non-edible crops – a type of germanium used in commercial cosmetic production – that are not sought after by elephants. They have also invested in new poultry species to boost profit for the farm.

Climate-smart farmers benefitted from improved seeds, irrigation, agrometeorological support, markets, climate, and advisory services. In Homa Bay, farmers have cultivated improved drought-resistant crops and livestock, especially goats, and employ irrigation.


Photo courtesy of Hivos


In Machakos and Kitui, farmers are being encouraged to diversify their production and create agroforestry systems, and they are gaining access to drought-resilient varieties and disease-free planting materials. In some areas, soil health is being improved through soil and water conservation measures, crop-residue mulching, leguminous cover crops, and other sustainable land management practices.


Photo courtesy of Hivos


Due to climate-smart agriculture, farmers have since recorded improved yields and guarantee produce in all seasons.

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VCA is set to effect the amplification of locally-shaped climate action and play a pivotal role in the global climate debate. For more information about the program, our agenda and how to collaborate with us, please contact us via info@voicesforclimateaction.org.

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