Drought resilience in northern Kenya
Project title: Drought resilience in northern Kenya
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MoALF)
Overall term: 2017 to 2018
Around one third of the Kenyan population lives in arid or semi-arid regions, which cover 80 per cent of the country. The majority of inhabitants in the north are pastoralists who keep their livestock on sparsely covered grassland. They therefore depend heavily on the availability of grazing land and water. However, unsustainable agricultural practices and the impacts of climate change have increased the pressure on local ecosystems. Droughts occur with increasing frequency. The progressive overexploitation of pastures, soil erosion and the falling water table exacerbate the threat to food security, both for human beings and for animals.
State-run services have difficulty in reaching the communities in the north of the country owing to the low population density and limited institutional capacities. Until now, severe droughts have mostly been combated with ad hoc emergency measures. In a recent sweeping shift in policy, the Kenyan Government resolved to pursue forward-looking planning in order to eliminate the need for emergency aid in the event of severe droughts by 2022. The Common Programme Framework for Ending Drought Emergencies and increasing resilience to drought sets out the intended path. The aim is to replace the existing emergency aid system with a sustainable, long-term strategy to prevent the negative impacts of droughts, enabling the agricultural sector to produce sufficient food even during periods of drought.
The national programme was officially launched in the counties of Marsabit and Turkana in 2015, but the guidelines have not yet been implemented. This is partly due to the fact that key institutions and authorities which are now responsible for Kenya’s agricultural development were only created in 2013 as part of the country’s decentralisation process. They therefore do not yet have the capacity to promote the sustainable agriculture and rural development required for coping with the droughts in northern Kenya.
In consultation with other key players, county governments have improved the overall conditions for increasing resilience to drought.
Project support focuses on the counties of Marsabit and Turkana in northern Kenya. The project team advises the governments of these two agrarian counties on implementing the initiated reforms and on restructuring. Training, back-up and direct consulting activities enable state and non-governmental players to elaborate sustainable policies and strategies that enhance resilience to drought in the counties.
The stakeholders work together to create and support structures for a better exchange of knowledge between the counties, the national government and other decision-makers. The project team assists the county governments in knowledge-based and results-oriented planning, steering and financing of preventive measures. This facilitates the coordinated, effective implementation of state policies and programmes that will improve drought resilience among the inhabitants of Turkana and Marsabit.
The project team supports those responsible in the agricultural institutions of the county governments in developing holistic approaches for increasing resilience to drought. The county governments cooperate with non-governmental organisations, the private sector and grassroots organisations with a view to developing and coordinating effective service systems to be implemented at local level in selected agro-ecological areas with cooperatives and other user communities. Activities will focus on providing agricultural extension services, training and organisational advice.
The project is working with the tried-and-tested practices and processes initiated by the predecessor project and is developing them further. These include plans for the agricultural sector, which are being drawn up as the basis for follow-on measures, in cooperation with decision-makers in Turkana and Marsabit counties.
The project will continue to promote training activities in future in order to strengthen the county governments’ capacities for making decisions and taking action. For example, it will keep supporting user-oriented training courses on geographical information systems (GIS) in the counties to bring about a lasting improvement in regional planning. Activities initiated with grassroots organisations will also be carried on.