To mitigate the effects of a changing climate, Kenya has put in place elaborate national policy, legal and institutional frameworks on climate change. Key among them are the National Climate Change Action Plan, National Adaptation Plan, National Framework Policy on Climate Change, and the Climate Change Act 2016.
While these measures are promising, low policy awareness and inadequate resources are limiting implementation. To address this, Solidaridad coordinated a stakeholders’ forum for the private sector and the Ministry of Agriculture & Irrigation to develop clear priorities for the agriculture sector.
Effects of Climate Change on Kenya’s Economy
Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy and accounts for 25% of the country’s GDP. It also is the main source of livelihood for the majority of Kenyans in terms of food security, economic growth, employment and foreign exchange earnings.
However, the agricultural sector in Kenya is heavily impacted by higher temperatures and increasingly erratic weather patterns. The impacts of climate change are evident through increased droughts and floods, pests and diseases, increased soil erosion, loss of soil fertility, and reduced productivity.
Impacts of Climate Change on Gender
Speaking during the stakeholders’ forum on climate change held on 26th April 2018 in Nairobi, Ms. Nancy Rapando, the Solidaridad East & Central Africa’s Climate Innovations Specialist, urged Kenyans to take practical action to manage risk, reduce vulnerabilities of communities, and strengthen resilience of the economy against the impacts of a changing climate. The event attracted participation from the private sector, scholars, national policy makers, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.
Ms. Rapando suggested the inclusion of specific provisions in the policy document to empower women, in recognition of the fact that while men often go to cities in search of work, it is women who remain to reconstruct homesteads and manage the utilization of the available natural resources. Because of this she noted, women are most susceptible to environmental disasters such as mudslides, drought and floods.
Climate-smart Approach to Agribusiness
Dr. Lucy Ng’ang’a, the Agriculture and Climate Change Expert from the Ministry of Agriculture & Irrigation, outlined that the country has adopted a climate-smart agriculture approach to mitigate climate-change effects.
Mr Rakula Okoth, Solidaridad East and Central Africa’s Impact Investment Specialist, highlighted opportunities for development banks to provide repayable grants to selected microfinance institutions. This includes lending to farmers and agribusiness aggregators to invest in climate-smart commodities, technologies and practices.
Rakula cited that the lending process is fundamental to provide mechanisms through which climate finance can flow through existing commercial financial institutions to smallholder farmers and aggregators. He said that through this mechanism, farmers use their produce as collateral, and repayments are offered to new and existing farmers. This enhances the concept of a perpetually growing revolving loan fund.
Kenya’s Adoption of Climate Change Interventions
Speaking at the event, Mr. Suresh Patel, an environmental activist and entrepreneur, commended Solidaridad for presenting a platform through which the public and private sectors can engage on how best to determine, as well as improve, policies and strategies tailored to strengthen climate-smart agriculture.
He said that public-private partnerships are critical to successful implementation of the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy, and the implementation, mitigation and adaptation measures in the agriculture sector.
Mr. Suresh called upon the finance sector to take up their role in support of climate-smart agriculture by partnering with agribusiness aggregators, insurance companies and smallholder farmers to adopt a range of tools to de-risk production and build resilience to the increasingly variable climate.