Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kenya can lead on climate change adaptation

IRIN: Research on the effects of climate change on agricultural productivity and food security in Kenya shows that the country can be a leader in adaptation to a warmer climate.  ...The agriculture sector accounts for 75 percent of Kenya’s labour force, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and “uncertainty posted by climate change is affecting development and livelihood options,” NCCAP noted.

It also places a financial burden on the country’s resources. The government has already set aside Ksh600 million (US$6.8 million) in emergency funds for drought-stricken areas for the duration of this dry spell, according to Devolution Principal Secretary John Konchellah.

But IFPRI, in a report released in September 2013, said climate change could open up greater opportunities for agriculture and result in a shift in Kenya’s cereal production, with regions previously not viable for growing these crops becoming more conducive.

Experts say solutions exist, but government systems need to be mobilized into action, and farmers communicated with.  “Policymakers at both the national and county governments need to move with speed to harness the opportunity, while those that are likely to suffer, [need] to review their policies and strategies to accommodate the impending reality,” Evans Kituyi, senior programme specialist for climate change at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC - part of Canada’s foreign aid programme), told IRIN by phone.

“One option would be to help farmers migrate to new maize-friendly areas. And another one is to help farmers find better crops to grow in their current locations,” said Michael Waithaka, a co-author of the report and a leader in the Policy Analysis and Advocacy Program at (ASARECA).

Communicating vital information about the climate to farmers is also crucial. In pastoralist communities, where livestock have died during droughts, the government is providing information about grazing systems and livestock diversification. Farmers are holding lower stocks, and taking out insurance to mitigate against shocks...

Maize on Mount Kenya, shot by Steven Walling, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0 

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