Kenya

 

Kenya is located in east Africa, at latitudes of 6°S to 6°N. Located on the Indian Ocean, its climate is tropical, but moderated by diverse topography in the west. Kenya’s topography rises from the coastal plains to the eastern edge of the East African Plateau, and the Great Rift Valley. The central highland regions are substantially cooler than the coast, with the coolest (highest altitude) regions at 15°C compared with 29°C at the coast. Temperatures vary little throughout the year, but drop by around 2 degree in the coolest season. Seasonal rainfall in Kenya is driven mainly by the migration of the Inter‐Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), relatively narrow belt of very low pressure and heavy precipitation that forms near the earth’s equator. The exact position of the ITCZ changes over the course of the year, migrating southwards through Kenya in October to December, and returning northwards in March, April and May. This causes Kenya to experience two distinct wet periods – the ‘short’ rains in October to December and the ‘long’ rains in March to May. The amount of rainfall received in these seasons is generally 50‐200mm per month but varies greatly, exceeding 300mm per month in some localities. Kenya’s geographic location makes it inherently prone to cyclical droughts and floods. However, according to the First National Communication (INC), such types of cyclical climate-driven events will increase in intensity and frequency due to global climate change. Livelihoods and economic activities in Kenya’s are highly vulnerable to climatic fluctuations in space and time. The country’s inland areas are largely arid with two thirds of the country receiving less than 500 mm of rainfall per year, limiting the potential for agriculture. In general inter-annual climate variability is high. The arid and semi-arid regions cover about 83 per cent of the country; only around 17 per cent of Kenya’s land is arable (MENR, 2010). Land degradation is a key issue in Kenya, driven partly by overgrazing and deforestation; biomass accounts for 78 per cent of the energy consumed in the country (MENR, 2010). Indeed, high population growth, deforestation, shifting climate patterns and overgrazing have significantly degraded the country’s environment (USDS, 2010). Rainy seasons can be extremely wet and associated with floods and landslides, but can also arrive late or fail, introducing considerable uncertainty in agricultural practices. The rural poor are the most vulnerable to the impacts of Kenya’s current climate variability.

Kenya has the largest economy in East Africa, and serves as a finance and transport hub for the region (USDS, 2010). Rain-fed agriculture, tourism and the services industry are major drivers of its economy (MENR, 2010). Additional key industries include livestock/pastoralism, horticulture, fisheries and forest products (MENR, 2010). Approximately 75 per cent of Kenyans derive their livelihoods from the agricultural sector (CIA, 2010). With many Kenyans living abroad, remittances also contribute greatly to Kenya’s economy; they constitute the single largest source of foreign exchange and act as a social safety net (USDS, 2010). Despite the relative regional strength of Kenya’s economy, a large number of Kenyans live in extreme poverty; mean annual income per capita is approximately US$700 (USDS, 2010).

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Supporting developing countries to integrate the agricultural sectors into National Adaptation Plans: Kenya

Agriculture contributes approximately 30.3 percent of Kenya’s GDP and another 27 percent indirectly via linkages to agro-based industries and the service sector. Increased temperatures and variation in precipitation are expected to affect crops, livestock and threatening livelihoods.

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Agriculture and Climate Change Adaptation Planning in Kenya

Lucy Ng’ang’a, who is working as an Agriculture and Climate Change Expert in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Kenya, describes why and how the country is preparing its national adaptation plan.
In Kenya, the most vulnerable people are already being impacted by climate variability. Ms Ng’ang’a underlines the need to build capacity at all levels as being essential for climate change adaptation, especially in rural areas.

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Agriculture contributes approximately 30.3 percent of Kenya’s GDP and another 27 percent indirectly via linkages to agro-based industries and the service sector. Increased temperatures and variation in precipitation are expected to affect crops, livestock and threatening livelihoods.

Kenya is located on the equator with the Indian Ocean lying to the south east. Within its borders are a diverse range of climatic conditions. They include tropical hot humid conditions along the coast, cooler savannah grasslands in the interior, hot and dry arid and semi-arid areas to the north and temperate forested, hilly areas in the West.  

Agriculture contributes about 30.3 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (in 2014) and another 27 percent indirectly via linkages to agro-based industries and the service sector. Farming in Kenya is primarily small scale, with approximately 75 percent of output produced on rain fed farms averaging between 0.3 to 3 hectares in size.

Climate changes already observed include rising temperatures, shifts in seasonal rainfall patterns as well as a decreasing amounts of rain in many locations. Rain fed agriculture is particularly vulnerable to these changes. Increased temperatures and variation in precipitation are expected to affect crops and livestock, threatening livelihoods. Resource poor farmers vulnerable to shifts in climate will face serious crop failures, income loss and loss of livelihoods.

UNDP and FAO are supporting farming communities in Kenya identify and implement adaptation strategies through the Integrating Agriculture Into NAPs initiative. This entails:

  • strengthening technical and institutional capacities for NAP implementation
  • developing a strategy for integrating adaptation measures with national planning and budgeting processes (Kenya Climate Smart Agricultural Framework Programme)
  • strengthened relevant monitoring and evaluation capacities
  • disseminate lessons learned and case studies on integrating agriculture into NAPs process at a national level
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Agriculture contributes approximately 30.3 percent of Kenya’s GDP and another 27 percent indirectly via linkages to agro-based industries and the service sector. Increased temperatures and variation in precipitation are expected to affect crops, livestock and threatening livelihoods.

Kenya’s National Climate Change Response Strategy – April 2010

The first document to address climate change concerns of the country, the National Climate Change Response Strategy was formulated through a participatory process involving a wide range of stakeholders. Climate change has already had profound effects on the people of Kenya, the La Niña droughts in 2000 left more than 4.7 million facing starvation. To respond to these challenges, the document outlines a number of actions including the establishment of a climate change legislation as well as a climate change secretariat to ensure effective implementation of these actions.

Kenya’s National Climate Change Action Plan – 2012

 

The National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) seeks to reduce Kenya’s vulnerability to climate change by increasing climate resilience and adopting a low-carbon development pathway. The plan summarizes an analysis of mitigation and adaptation options, which point to drought and water scarcity as key impacts of climate change. The country’s approach of transitioning to a low-carbon pathway is by adopting a cross-sectoral and high-level response to reduce risks and maximize opportunities.