Participatory investment planning for environment, water and energy in the dryland of northern Kenya

Water availability is variable and unpredictable in the drylands, where energy options and ecosystem processes differ from those in more humid environments. These environmental characteristics can have a positive or negative effect on human activities and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

April 2016 - December 2016
Ced Hesse

Senior fellow, Climate Change; team leader, climate resilience, productivity and equity in the drylands

A community discusses water and energy challenges in Alango, Kenya (Photo: Ibrahim Jarso, Resource Advocacy Program)

A community discusses water and energy challenges in Alango, Kenya (Photo: Ibrahim Jarso, Resource Advocacy Program)

Increasing knowledge of the factors that affect ecosystems, water and energy availability and uses can offer critical entry points for achieving all the SDGs in the dryland context, but in particular:

  • Supporting and strengthening the participation of local communities (SDG 6B)
  • Ensuring sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reducing the number of people suffering from water scarcity (SDG 6.4)
  • Ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services (SDG 7.1), and
  • Achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all (SDG6.1).

Our work aimed to increase understanding of the social and economic value planners can achieve at local, regional and national levels through investments that take into account the interrelated links between the environment, water and energy for achieving food and water security.

What IIED did

County governments in northern Kenya need to make strategic plans for water, energy and climate change to rebalance the threats and opportunities created by unpredictable cycles of droughts and floods, coordinate the efforts of local, national and international actors and ensure drylands achieve their full economic potential.

As part of a broader programme of work supporting county governments to mainstream climate change into their planning systems, we supported the Isiolo County's Ministry of Water, Energy and Climate Change to develop a multi-sectoral strategic plan through a series of sub-county level consultations and preparatory technical meetings in 2016. 

With local partner Resource Advocacy Programme, we facilitated these meetings, which had more than 100 participants from local customary resource user associations, women’s groups, formal water resource user associations, water committees, irrigation committees, ward adaptation planning committees and others. 

This work aimed to inform the county's five-year plan and budget, support and feed into ongoing catchment-level planning and contribute to broader national planning debates, particularly around arid and semi-arid lands. Our workshop report described the consultative process and its major findings and made the following recommendations to help the county government prepare its strategic plan:

  • Using scientific tools, databases, systems and capacities to observe and monitor climate effects, extractions and flows through the catchment
  • Using clean, affordable and appropriate technological solutions to redistribute and conserve water and energy supplies where they are needed within the catchment, particularly during both drought and floods, and 
  • Fostering inclusive formal and customary institutions, with active local participation, that can prioritise, guide, supervise and maintain the necessary information systems and infrastructure.

Additional resources

Direct use values of climate-dependent ecosystem services in Isiolo County, Kenya, Caroline King-​Okumu, Oliver Vivian Wasonga, Ibrahim Jarso, Yasin Mahadi S Salah (2016), IIED Report

Distilling the value of water investments, Caroline King-​Okumu (2016), IIED Briefing Paper

Inclusive green growth in Kenya: opportunities in the dryland water and rangeland sectors, Caroline King-​Okumu (2015), IIED Report