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Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation into Planning

In an attempt to ward off the negative impacts of climate change, five Arid and Semi Arid counties of Isiolo, Wajir, Garissa, Makueni and Kitui have legislated climate change regulations dubbed County Climate Change Fund (CCCF) regulations/bill.  Makueni and Wajir have passed the legislation with Isiolo, Kitui and Garissa at an advanced stage of legislating their regulations that will help in curbing the effects of climate change.

The legislations are anchored on the recently enacted Kenya Climate Change Act, 2016 and Public Finance Management Act, 2012. The CCCF recognizes the role of communities in identifying, prioritizing and participating in implementation of adaptation investments that build their resilience to climate change.The initiative began in Isiolo in 2010 prior to the formation of the County Government.

Today, 42 community adaptation projects (ranging from water infrastructure, strengthening of natural resource governance to renovation of the Kinna livestock laboratory) have been implemented. Success of the Isiolo project led to additional funding from the Department for International Development (DfID) to upscale the project to four other counties of Makueni, Wajir, Kitui and Garissa from October 2013 during which time County governments were in the process of formation.

In undertaking adaptation investments, government planners, local organizations together with community representatives (Ward Adaptation Planning Committees (WAPCs) conduct participatory livelihood and local economy resilience self-assessments. The self-assessments enable different groups within the wider community to identify what either improves or undermines their ability to manage climate variability challenges.

The process has not been without challenges. Some of the challenges encountered include disconnect between community and government planning; poor coordination across sectors (agriculture, water, energy, environment etc) and levels of government; poor access and use of climate information; and low capacity to track impact of projects on climate adaptation.A number of lessons deriving from county government and community engagement in prioritization of investments; Climate Information Service - CIS access and dissemination and; participatory monitoring and evaluation have emerged. Key among them being: -

  • Communities have effectively produced empowered community institutions (WAPCs) that have given birth to better planning and service delivery. Strong WAPCs are good examples of how a devolved government model can empower communities.
  • Even though enhancing community capacity to engage with county government requires time and resources, if well executed, delivers lasting and positive changes that enable communities to gainfully engage with their governments on the development agenda.
  • Through enactment of the County Climate Change Funds legislations, county governments have an opportunity to access climate finance from international (Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund etc.), national (National Climate Fund) and local sources (county government budget; donations) as they already have structures in place that can enable them access, use and account for funds.
  • Timely and accurate weather forecasts at a localized level can help communities and households in making critical decisions including planning for their livelihoods. In disseminating weather information, including relevant advisories would make the information more acceptable and relevant in the eyes of the county planners and communities. Moreover, an extensive awareness and sensitization training is required for the community to better understand CIS as a scientific tool to compliment traditional forecasting.

To achieve lasting results, National and County governments must collaborate further and bring on board all stakeholders including private sector and Non-government organizations to take forward priority adaptation and resilience building activities. The devolved climate finance approach has now been tested in five counties over a number of years with promising results - other counties facing similar challenges can take it up and adopt as appropriate.