By Matt Burdett, 25 March 2018
On this page, we look at Kenya as a case study of the response to climate change in one country focusing on the actions of non-governmental stakeholders.
Non-governmental responses in Kenya
While Kenya’s government has policies that acknowledge the possible impacts of climate change, civil society within the country has developed its own responses. Organisations that have made some efforts include:
- Climate Action for Sustainable Development (CASD)
- Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG)
- International Youth Council (IYC) Kenya Chapter
- One Acre Fund (Kenya)
These groups recognise that as a relatively small emitter of greenhouse gases, Kenya can do little to stop climate change from happening. In fact, they mostly focus on developing the infrastructure and expertise of the population so that the country develops in a sustainable way, as well as policies for adaptation to the future climate, which are aligned with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Both these will help Kenya to deal with climate change in the future.
Example 1: Advocacy – Kenya Climate Change Working Group
The KCCWG describes itself as “a national network of Civil Society organisations uniting voices and action on climate change” (KCCWG, 2018). It was formed in Kenya in 2009, with support from partners such as Cafod, Oxfam, UK Aid and WWF.
One of the main elements of the KCCWG’s work is that of climate change advocacy. They aim to encourage the government to have policies that help to prepare the country for climate change. For example, it has a series of “Climate Hearings” that include local communities all the way up to central government. These are opportunities to form policies. They have partnered with the government in the formulation of Kenya’s Vision 2030. This is an example of lobbying. It’s almost impossible to give a concrete assessment of the success of the KCCWG, but in 2016 the government published its “Kenya National Adaptation Plan 2015-2030” (Government of Kenya, 2016) which contained many references to the support of civil society.
Example 2: Adaptation – One Acre Fund
One Acre Fund is “a non-profit social enterprise that supplies financing and training to help smallholders grow their way out of hunger and build lasting pathways to prosperity” (One Acre Fund, 2018). It has worked with small farms across East Africa since 2006; Kenya was where it began its work.
It claims to work with over 200,000 farmers in Kenya. It lends the things needed for farms to be successful – such as seeds, fertilizer, bags to transport crops, and so on. It also helps farmers with social necessities such as cookstoves, lighting and menstrual hygiene products.
- One Acre Fund impacts in Kenya. Source: One Acre Fund, 2018b.
By helping farmers by lending them the things they need, the Fund aims to make farming more sustainable financially, as well as promoting climate-sensitive farming techniques. This is known as climate-smart farming. Climate-smart farming involves techniques such as:
- Planting trees alongside crops: Helps to prevent soil erosion, develops a new carbon sink, provides shade to crops reducing evaporation
- Growing resistant crops that can cope with adverse conditions such as drought
- Sustainable pastoral farming practices such as less intensive grazing
The One Acre Fund provides the necessities for this, such as:
- One Acre Fund lends these products to small holder farmers in Kenya. Source: One Acre Fund, 2018b.
In order to maximise the effectiveness, the loan is seen as part of the entire production chain. Farmers are loaned the items, which are delivered to their area, and receive training on how to use the products most effectively.
- The One Acre Fund approach to climate-smart farming. Source: One Acre Fund, 2018c.
Government of Kenya, 2016. Kenya National Adaptation Plan 2015-2030. http://www4.unfccc.int/nap/Documents%20NAP/Kenya_NAP_Final.pdf Accessed 10 April 2018.
KCCWG [Kenya Climate Change Working Group], 2018. About us. http://www.kccwg.org/about.html Accessed 10 April 2018.
One Acre Fund, 2018. Purpose and Values. https://oneacrefund.org/about-us/purpose-and-values/ Accessed 10 April 2018.
One Acre Fund, 2018b. Kenya Factsheet. https://oneacrefund.org/what-we-do/countries-we-serve/kenya/ Accessed 10 April 2018.
One Acre Fund, 2018c. Our Model. https://oneacrefund.org/what-we-do/our-model/ Accessed 10 April 2018.
Case study: Kenya’s non-governmental response to climate change: Learning activities
- Explain why most non-governmental organisations in Kenya try to help people adapt to climate change, rather than prevent it entirely. 
- What is meant by ‘advocacy’? 
- Outline how the KCCGW works to change public policy. 
- What is meant by ‘climate smart farming’? 
- Outline how the One Acre Fund supports climate smart farming in Kenya. 
- Why do you think the One Acre Fund supports non-farming needs such as cooking stoves and sanitary pads for women? 
Climate-smart farming is increasingly important. Look at http://www.fao.org/climate-smart-agriculture/knowledge/practices/en/ to find out more and produce a list of techniques that could be applied to Kenya.