Kenyan local climate fund's success heralds expansion to 29% of nation

A pilot project to support adaptation to climate change at the local level in Kenya's Isiolo County has been such a success that it is being replicated in four more counties, to cover a combined 29 per cent of the nation. The move is significant as it shows how county governments could access global climate finance, which is set to rise to US$100 billion a year by 2020.

News, 24 January 2014
People living amid the arid terrain of Wajir in Kenya will benefit from the expansion of a pilot project (Photo: Oxfam East Africa via Creative Commons

People living amid the arid terrain of Wajir in Kenya will benefit from the expansion of a pilot project (Photo: Oxfam East Africa via Creative Commons

The UK Department for International Development, which finances the fund, has given the pilot project an A+ grade. Under the management of the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), lessons learnt from Isiolo are now being applied to Garissa, Kitui, Makueni and Wajir Counties, with the Wajir launch taking place on 24 January 2014.

The project was set up to design and test a mechanism to allow local people to identify investments that build their resilience to climate change, and then finance these projects through a County Adaptation Fund. Since it was set up in October 2012, the Climate Adaptation Fund has allocated £500,000 (68.5 million shillings) to communities in Isiolo County to fund a variety of resilience building projects.

Communities in the five pilot wards of Kinna, Sericho, Merti, Garbatulla and Oldonyiro identified projects for funding through their ward-level committee. A cross community/government committee at the county level then assessed these proposals and helped strengthen them to meet the funding criteria.

These include infrastructural projects such as a livestock disease laboratory in Kinna and sand dams to store water in Oldonyiro, as well as the establishment of local agreements to improve natural resource management by strengthening the traditional dedha system of rotating grazing lands and managing access to dry season water in Garbatulla and Kinna.

Successes like these have prompted the approach's expansion, under a £6.5 million Adaptation Consortium — composed of UK Met Office, Kenya Metrological Services, CARE, Christian Aid and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) — to other arid and semi-arid counties of Kenya. The consortium secretariat is housed at the NDMA.

"The important thing about this approach is that vulnerable communities are the ones making decisions on what should be funded through their Ward Adaptation Planning Committees," says Victor Orindi, climate change advisor at NDMA and coordinator of the Adaptation Consortium. "This ensures that interventions address needs felt on the ground and that resources reach the most deserving."

"In the past, development plans have been designed and implemented without involving the locals, disadvantaging them. This explains the many white elephant projects in Wajir," says Diyad Hujale the Executive Director of Arid Lands Development Focus, Wajir. "However, this project puts the community members first by prioritising their plans, and as result strengthening their resilience to climate change."

"The Isiolo fund is an innovative use of Kenya's new constitution, which permits devolution not only to the county but also the sub-county institutions," says Mumina Bonaya, Secretary to the Isiolo Climate Adaptation Planning Committee. "It shows how the devolution enshrined in the constitution can work for the drylands and the people who live there. It encourages local institutions and communities to work together to develop effective solutions to the challenges that the changing climate presents."

The launch in Wajir took place at Raha Palace Hotel on January 24 2014.

For more information see the IIED briefing paper "Ensuring devolution supports adaptation and climate resilient growth in Kenya" by Ced Hesse and James Pattison.