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Safeguarding livelihoods and promoting resilience through National Adaptation Plans– Case study: Kenya

This country case study on Kenya is one in a series that describes the steps taken to formulate and implement National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).
kenyan agricultural adaptation


The impacts of climate change pose many challenges for Kenya. Eighty percent of the country is arid or semi–arid and the economy is dependent on climate sensitive sectors, such as rain–fed agriculture. More than five million smallholders (e.g. the majority of farms range from 0.3 to 3 hectares in size) are engaged in different types of agricultural activities and are particularly vulnerable to seasonal climate variability, droughts and floods. The agriculture sector contributes 26 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Global Climate Modelling data indicates that the mean annual temperature in Kenya is projected to increase by between 0.8 and 1.5 °C by the 2030s, and 1.6 °C to 2.7 °C by the 2060s. Agriculture is also the largest source of Kenya’s GHG emissions, primarily from livestock methane emissions and land use change and deforestation.

This country case study* on Kenya is one in a series that describes the steps taken to formulate and implement National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), with a particular emphasis on adaptation in agriculture (incl. forestry, livestock and fisheries). This series aims to provide national policy makers with valuable information from colleagues and counterparts in Asia, Africa and Latin America who are on the same NAP journey to address the multiple challenges posed by climate change.

*Download the full case study from the right-hand column.

Key messages

Kenya has an advanced suite of national adaptation policies, strategies, laws and plans in place.

Significant efforts have been made to implement the proposed agricultural sector–related interventions in the NAP,for example through the development of the Kenya Climate‐Smart Agriculture (CSA) Framework Programme.

  • Implementation of the Framework Programme will require capacity building, resources, coordination and political goodwill, particularly in the agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors.
  • Adaptation will be mainstreamed through the development of climate change adaptation strategies for six basins in Kenya, and the revision of the Forestry sector strategy.

NAP-Ag Support for Kenya’s NAP Process

Status of NAP Formulation and Implementation in relation to UNFCCC NAP Technical Guidelines (figure 2, page 8 of the report).

Lessons Learnt

Identifying priorities – Undertaking a multi–sectoral capacity assessment early in the NAP process (i.e. in the case of Kenya, it took place once the NAP had been formulated but prior to implementation) is of great value to identify gaps and priority needs to focus resources in the short–, medium– and long–term.

Working at multiple levels – Working at both the National and County level in Kenya, whether supporting training and consultations or translating National policies into local action through CSA, has increased the reach and impact of the NAP–Ag programme.

Government relations – The good working relations with the Ministry of Agriculture and other key sectors (environment, drought management, water, finance, and forestry) has allowed the NAP–Ag programme in Kenya to increase its influence and support to adaptation processes.

Financial sustainability – To ensure long term financial resources for adaptation coordination and support, NAP–Ag is working with the Government to provide resource mobilization training, as well as seeking funding through the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Readiness and Preparatory Support Program.

Decision making – In addition to the Project Steering Committee, the NAP–Ag works through an informal “core team”, made up of six different Ministry representatives and the national UNDP–FAO coordinator. When emergencies or important issues arise this team can meet and work quickly to resolve them (e.g. the team met, created a roadmap, consulted the CCD and submitted a NAP GCF funding proposal in four months).

Technical expertise – The NAP–Ag Kenya programme has drawn on pools of technical expertise, including those available within FAO and UNDP, to offer capacity building on issues identified in the capacity needs assessment (e.g. experts in cost–benefit analysis, agriculture economics and gender).

Private sector engagement – The NAP–Ag recognizes the need to increase private sector engagement in adaptation planning and implementation, not just through information exchange but via more substantive involvement (e.g. Public Private Partnerships, private sector adaptation investments). To address this need improved private sector engagement has been included in the NAP proposal submitted to the Green Climate Fund – Readiness and Preparatory Support Program.

Public awareness – The importance of mainstreaming awareness and public understanding of climate adaptation is key, and to address this the NAP Proposal submitted for GCF funding has included training journalists to effectively communicate about the importance of adaptation.

NAP success factors

There is an urgent need for mainstreaming, resourcing, coordination and adaptation action at the county level. However, to date, the following policy and institutional factors have helped facilitate the formulation, and progress towards implementation, of the Kenyan NAP:

  • Political support – The National Climate Change Council is chaired by the president of Kenya, thus ensuring the highest level of political awareness, involvement and support of climate change action. It has given momentum to the passing of legislation and drive to implementation of the NAP.
  • Institutional coordination – The governance structure established by the Climate Change Act (2016) has improved coordination between Ministries, helps avoid duplication of effort (e.g. all GCF project proposals now go through the Climate Change Directorate) and encourages collaboration between sectors (e.g. CSA implementation meeting multiple sectoral goals).
  • Stakeholder consultation – The NAP and Climate–Smart Agriculture Strategy involved extensive consultation both at the national and county level. This has allowed diverse experiences and knowledge to be incorporated in the planning process, and strengthened awareness and support for the process, thus preparing the ground for future action.
  • County implementation – With national climate adaptation plans and strategies in place, the focus is now on implementation through devolved county governments. The agriculture sectors were heavily devolved in the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, and whilst governance issues remain, the increased local autonomy bodes well for implementation of climate-smart agricultural practices on the ground.
  • Adaptation finance – The improved coordination mechanisms and the establishment of the Climate Change Directorate in the Climate Change Act (2016), and the recent the Climate Change Finance Policy (2017), will help ensure funding is focused on priority needs and avoid donors channeling funding into the same areas.

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