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Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity in Garissa County, Kenya

Submitted by Caroline Lumosi 15th May 2014 15:28


Herders watering camels in a makeshift trough, herders are taking advantage of the rains to water their livestock after a long period of drought. Image: Flickr by Ann Weru/IRIN).

Executive Summary

In Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands, livelihoods are dominated by pastoralism. Pastoral communities are accustomed to dealing with drought and erratic rainfall and have traditionally utilized systems and practices that minimized the impact of climate-related shocks to their livelihoods. Recently however, the impacts of climate change have combined with other environmental, economic and political factors to create a situation of increasing vulnerability for poor and marginalized households. The situation is particularly serious for women, who face additional social, cultural and political constraints to resource access and adaptive decision-making. In response, some households have transitioned into an agro pastoral way of life, combining the traditional livestock rearing with crop production and other economic activities. While this shift represents an innovation for these communities, it has also exposed them to new risks and a different set of challenges in securing their livelihoods.

In Garissa County, the impacts of climate change are already being felt by communities, who are seeking ways to adapt to the changes and to build resilient livelihoods. The Adaptation Learning Program for Africa (ALP) is working to increase the capacity of vulnerable households to adapt to climate change and variability. As part of its community-based adaptation process, ALP conducted participatory research and analysis on climate change vulnerability and adaptive capacity with six communities in Garissa County in 2011. Based on this analysis, this document explores the impacts of climate change on livelihoods in pastoral and agro-pastoral households, using the villages of Shant’abaq and Kone to illustrate the realities of climate change in vulnerable communities. It also aims to highlight the existing adaptive capacity within these communities and the issues that constrain people’s ability to put this capacity into action.