Drought resilience in northern Kenya

Project description

Project title: Drought resilience in northern Kenya
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Kenya
Lead executing agency: Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries
Overall term: 2014 to 2016

Around 30 per cent of Kenya’s population lives in arid and semi-arid regions, which cover 80 per cent of the country. The long period during which these regions and their communities were politically neglected has led to high levels of poverty and widespread malnutrition. Droughts are occurring at increasingly shorter intervals, and pose a threat to food security and peace. The 2011 drought was one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent years. In a fundamental policy shift, the heads of state and government of the countries of the Horn of Africa emphasised within the September 2011 Nairobi Declaration their resolve to strengthen their self-help capacities by revitalising investment in the neglected sectors and regions. In this way, they seek in the medium to long term to transform the agricultural sector to ensure sufficient food production despite droughts. The donor community has committed major support to these efforts.

The Kenyan institutions now responsible for agricultural and rural development, which in some cases have recently been created or are in the process of being established within the decentralisation process, will need to use the international donor community’s funding for this purpose. Kenya’s Common Programme Framework for Ending Drought Emergencies and increasing drought resilience stipulates the concrete implementation of activities using these funds. Yet the institutions responsible are not yet sufficiently able to promote drought-resistant agricultural and rural development in northern Kenya.

Key institutions for agricultural development, particularly those at national and county level in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid regions, promote drought-resilient agriculture and rural development with a view to achieving food security.

The project focuses on support for the two counties of Marsabit and Turkana in northern Kenya. The project team is advising the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries on implementing the initiated reforms and restructuring measures. The National Drought Management Authority is responsible for coordinating the different areas of work and for the cross-thematic planning and realisation of the Common Programme Framework.

The project team provides advice and training for the responsible parties within the agricultural institutions of the county governments, and assists them in planning and carrying out drought-resistant agricultural development – with relevant investments and training strategies. Continuing training is offered to staff at county and sub-county level to enable them to perform their new tasks competently. The team also supports the counties and sub-county structures in optimising their organisational structures and internal processes. Together with the project team, county government employees and researchers are assessing innovative technologies that have been tried and tested in other countries, with a view to introducing them in Kenya.

Kenya’s Common Programme Framework for Ending Drought Emergencies and increasing drought resilience has now been formulated. In addition, plans are being been drafted on the further development of the agricultural sector in both counties. Project team members participated in the working group on livelihoods. At national level and in the project region, they coordinated the implementation of many activities agreed upon within this group. This work has sparked public and international attention. More people around the world are now aware of the importance of activities to tackle drought. This has a positive impact on investments geared to increasing the drought resilience of agriculture.

Project team members have shared their technical expertise, for instance on marketing structures for animal products and the identification of potential locations for flood irrigation. This makes it easier for the counties to mobilise funding from additional donors. One example is the improved cattle marketing structure in Marsabit. Drawing on GIZ project studies on cattle and feed markets, the county was able to attract financial resources from USAID. The responsible parties are thus now translating their knowledge into practice. Another study on flood irrigation fed into a proposal for its introduction in four different locations in northern Kenya. The World Bank and African Development Bank are now providing financial support to implement the proposal. Furthermore, ten staff members from the two counties participated in flood irrigation training in Ethiopia.

In cooperation with the county governments, the project team developed plans for the agriculture sector, which were incorporated into the overall county development plans. Team members succeeded in doubling the proportion of women taking part in the agricultural training offered (from 10 per cent to 20 per cent).

The project conducted a needs analysis for agricultural extension services. On this basis, a strategy was derived on how these services could expand their capacities and tailor their services to the needs of farmers. The project team supports assessments of existing training modules on this issue, and their adaptation to the local context. Around 800 households are already using a new technology in their daily lives, which allows them to increase their agricultural productivity.


Paul-Mathias Braun