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: Republic of Kenya
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MoALFI)
Overall term: 2017 to 2020

GIZ2019_Drought resilience_1


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. Young people migrate to urban regions in search of employment. Droughts occur at increasingly short intervals. 

State-run services experience difficulties in reaching the communities in the north of the country owing to the low population density and limited institutional capacities. Until now, catastrophic droughts have mostly been combated with ad hoc emergency measures. The Kenyan Government’s objective is to replace the existing emergency aid system with a sustainable, long-term strategy to prevent the negative impacts of droughts. 

The key institutions and authorities that are 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.

GIZ2019_Drought resilience_2


The project supports the counties of Marsabit and Turkana in northern Kenya with developing and implementing the initiated drought-resilience reforms and strategies.

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. 

The project team also supports those responsible in the agricultural institutions in developing holistic approaches for increasing resilience to drought, good governance and youth employment. The county governments cooperate with non-governmental organisations, the private sector and grassroots organisations to develop effective service systems to be implemented at local level in selected agro-ecological areas with cooperatives and other user communities. 

The project is building on the predecessor project to continue developing plans for the agricultural sector and strengthen the capacities for using geographical information systems (GIS) with a view to sustainably strengthening regional planning.


In the new national agricultural strategy, the project has contributed to strengthening the development of arid and semi-arid (ASAL) regions and food security, in particular. Thanks to the close cooperation between the county governments and the project team, further national policies on irrigated farming, food security and advisory and veterinary services are currently at various stages of legalisation.

The two counties, Turkana and Marsabit, are building their future development on the basis of improved plans for the agricultural sector. Thanks to training measures and coaching, the representatives of the county governments are better prepared to adapt national strategies to the context of northern Kenya and design new proposals for development projects. The county governments benefit from cooperation with the project on good governance for avoiding corruption. A dozen implementation plans have been developed with groups of farmers to strengthen drought resilience and adaptation to climate change, and financing arrangements have been initiated with local communities and service providers.

In Turkana, an ICT-based system was introduced for the monitoring and improved management of diseases in the productive livestock. Potential land for scaling structures to collect rainwater has been identified and mapped; the counties’ skills in methods for developing irrigation are strengthened.

GIZ2019_Drought resilience_3