Calls for increased financing of research work on climate in Nakuru County

Residents buy oranges by the roadside in Elburgon town, Nakuru County. The devolved unit is regarded as one of the food baskets in Kenya.


What you need to know:

  • Half of the county’s population does not have access to healthy and nutritious food.
  • Smallholder agricultural production is mainly under rain-fed conditions, with weather fluctuations impacting productivity.

A detailed climate vulnerability and ecosystem assessment study for Nakuru County has strongly recommended that multiple stakeholders and partners provide adequate financing for research work on climate.  A raft of recommendations proposed by the researchers could be a game changer if implemented and could see the county, regarded as one of the food baskets in Kenya, regain its lost glory as a top food producer.

The research was conducted by Arid Lands Information Network , an international NGO that facilitates information and knowledge exchange to and between extension workers or infomediaries and arid lands communities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

ALIN in close collaboration with the Nakuru County Government through its Department of Environment, Energy, Climate Change and Natural Resources with support from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Kenya through the Voices for Just Climate Action Programme singled out agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and the service sector as the main economic drivers.

Other recommendations include the need to support farmers at different levels of uptake of adaptation practices in building capacities for farmers to increasingly implement adaptation practices. The county still lacks a policy and the researchers now want the devolved unit to develop an evidence-based and context-specific policy approach to climate change as part of its County Climate Change Action Plan (2023-2027).  “Landscape/farm-level and agroecological-based climate and landscape smart practices (CLSPs) need to be implemented to enhance agricultural systems’ resilience in Nakuru,” said the research report.

“There is a gap in the climate information among most residents and the change agents and end users need to downscale and simplify the climate information for use through extension services at the ward levels,” the report reads. Seventy per cent of the total land in Nakuru County is highly agriculturally productive. Most households depend on agriculture and a significant number of farmers have an average land holding of 0.77 hectares; however, 49 per cent are poor, while 36 per cent of the country’s population are food-poor.

Half of the county’s population does not have access to healthy and nutritious food. Smallholder agricultural production is mainly under rain-fed conditions, with weather fluctuations impacting productivity.  Significant changes in the climate are expected between now and the end of the century, yet many smallholder farmers are ill-equipped to cope with climate-related risks.

Experts say that adaptation to climate change will require cross-disciplinary solutions that include developing feasible narrative scenarios that describe possible mitigation and adaptation paths for a just transition to low carbon and resilient climate future for the county. Although there are still uncertainties about the impacts of climate change on the specific wards and value chains, the report facilitates a discussion on the agricultural sector’s future development across sub-counties in Nakuru County.

Ms Grace Karanja, an official attached at the Climate Change Unit at the county government, describes the report as a critical reference in the war against the vagaries of climate change in the devolved unit.  “This report will greatly help during the implementation and working groups that form the climate change ward committees in the 55 wards in the county. It be used as check and balance by the ward committees for evaluation and assessment to see whether they are on the right track to adapting to climate change in their respective wards,” she said.

WWF Kenya said it supported ALIN as VCA is keen to see how the best available scientific information can be able to inform the climate actions in Nakuru County.

“One of the major concerns particularly at the county government level, is the lack of adequate and appropriate climate change information and knowledge and the lack of data available to researchers, planners, policy-makers, and the public. Increase in communication between scientists, decision-makers, CSOs, and communities and improved networks for information exchange and capacity building at the local level to provide accurate information for risk assessment,” said Jacqueline Kimeu, Energy and Climate Change Coordinator at WWF Kenya.

Ms Kimeu observed that the 13 pathways identified by the report, show the scenarios for just transition for Nakuru County.

“The scenarios are a powerful tool that will allow policymakers, academia, CSOs, FBOs, youth, women, and indigenous communities among others to explore possible climate futures and how they are shaped by our collective actions. This will help to address Sustainable Development Goals 7, 12, 13, and 15,” she concluded.

This story was produced with support from WWF-K VCA Project and MESHA