Responding to climate change in East Africa by strengthening dryland governance and planning

July 2013 to May 2015

County and local governments in Kenya and Tanzania are strengthening their capacity for effective adaptive planning with support from IIED. Through strengthening planning processes and establishing local adaptation funds, approaches to building resilience are being tested to inform policy and action in other drylands.

A young Maasai herder sees a future in pastoralism (Photo:

Climate change exacerbates the causes of poverty and inequality. In the dryland areas of East Africa, where a historical legacy of limited and often inappropriate development has left these areas with weaker institutions of governance and planning, less effective social and economic services and greater levels of poverty, climate change will affect communities and economies earlier and more severely than other areas.

In Kenya and Tanzania, drylands cover over 80 per cent and 50 per cent of land area respectively, supporting the livelihoods of millions of people. 

County and local governments are responsible for implementing these two countries' policies for economic development and poverty reduction; and they make strategic choices on land use. 

The governments in Kenya and Tanzania are designing and implementing policy frameworks for mitigating and adapting to climate change. While these frameworks are aligned with national development priorities, they need to support and use governance systems that empower local governments to define and tackle local needs.

Two action-research projects are aimed at improving this alignment between national and local government priorities, and at ensuring climate change adaptation is included into drylands development planning in Kenya and Tanzania.

The County Adaptation Fund (CAF) approach in Kenya's drylands

In 2013 Kenya's National Drought Management Authority established the Adaptation (ADA) Consortium to support the mainstreaming of climate adaptation into both national and county level planning.

The ADA Consortium was built on the lessons and processes established through a functioning County Adaptation Fund (CAF) in Isiolo County. In 2013, with DFID funding, it was given a mandate by the NDMA to continue to support the work in Isiolo and to establish similar mechanisms in a further four arid and semi-arid counties – Kitui, Makueni, Wajir and Garissa. 

Members of the consortium are: Christian Aid, leading work in Kitui and Makueni counties with Anglican Development Services Eastern; IIED, responsible for facilitating work in the counties of Garissa, Isiolo and Wajir with Womankind Kenya, Resources Advocacy Programme, and Arid-lands Development Focus, respectively; and the Kenya Meteorological Service, supported by the UK Meteorological Office, seeking to mainstream climate information services across all five counties. 

The CAF approach consists of four core components:

  • The fund itself, the CAF, currently in its second year of operation in Isiolo County and launched in the other four counties in September 2015. All counties are passing legislation to establish the CAFs as a Public Fund. This will establish a legal mechanism to channel climate finance held at the national level to the county level consistent with the principles of devolution enshrined in the constitution
  • County and ward-level adaptation committees responsible for allocating CAF expenditure. To ensure the majority of climate finance reaches vulnerable communities at the local level, the CAF mechanism stipulates that 70 per cent of the fund is prioritised to fund investments in public goods prioritised by communities through lower-level Ward Adaptation Planning Committees (WAPC). Of the remaining balance, 20 per cent is prioritised by a county-level adaptation committee for county-wide investments, while 10 per cent covers the costs of managing the funds
  • Resilience planning tools including climate information to address both current variability and climate extremes, and more radical climate change in the future. CAF-funded investments are thus planned with climate change in mind, and
  • Monitoring and evaluation tools based on the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development framework to enable county government and communities to track and assess the outcomes of adaptation interventions. 

The NDMA plans to apply lessons from this work across Kenya's arid and semi-arid lands and ensure drylands become an integral part of climate change adaptation policy and relief, including attracting national and international 'climate finance' for locally defined climate-resilient growth. 

Learn more: 

You can watch videos about this project on the Adaptation Consortium website

Devolved climate finance in northern Tanzania

Building on the experience of the Adaptation Consortium in Kenya, the districts of Longido, Monduli and Ngorongoro in northern Tanzania are building their readiness, as future sub-national 'executing entities', to access and disburse climate finance in support of community-prioritised adaptation. 

An institutional framework is being piloted to mainstream climate into district-level planning and budgeting processes and to ensure community-driven adaptation is supported by local government planning processes.  

With funding from UKaid and in partnership with Hakikazi Catalyst, IIED have supported the three districts to:

  • Establish devolved district level climate finance mechanisms
  • Enhance climate resilient development planning at district and divisional levels
  • Develop information systems for climate services, monitoring and learning, and
  • Inform national actors about learning from the projects.

All three districts have established divisional adaptation planning committees (DAPCs) and staff have been trained in and completed resilience assessments and resource mapping. Financial audits have confirmed the districts' ability to manage climate funds to the required standards.

There has been significant involvement from the Tanzanian Meteorological Office, which has sought feedback from communities on climate information it currently produces. It has also begun studies on the potential for "climate-proof" investments that will remain resilient in the face of predicted climate changes. 

The next phase of the project (2016 onwards) will consist of capitalising the district-level adaptation funds to finance investments in public goods prioritised by divisional-level adaptation committees.


Kenya NTV, 6 April 2017
Coverage of the investments being made to improve communities resilience to the effects of climate change. 


Additional resources

Additional resources

Resilience building in Tanzania: learning from experiences of institutional strengthening, Sam Greene (2015), IIED Working paper

Enabling resilience: bridging the planning gap in Tanzania, Sam Greene (2015), IIED Briefing paper

Maps that build bridges, Ced Hesse (2013), IIED Reflect & Act

A framework to assess returns on investments in the dryland systems of Northern Kenya, Caroline King-Okumu (2015), IIED

Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development, Nick Brooks, Simon Anderson, Jessica Ayers, Ian Burton and Ian Tellam (2011), IIED Working paper

Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development in Kenya, Irene Karani, Nyachomba Kariuki and Fatima Osman (2014), IIED

Participatory digital map-making in arid areas of Kenya and Tanzania, Tom Rowley (2013), IIED, excerpt from Participatory Learning and Action 66

Institutionalising adaptation monitoring and evaluation frameworks: Kenya, Irene Karani, Simon Anderson and Nyachomba Kariuki (2014) IIED Briefing paper

Publications on the County Adaptation Fund:

Adaptation Consortium website has a selection of publications about this project.

Isiolo County Adaptation Fund: activities, costs, impacts after the First Investment Round, Kenya National Drought Management Authority (2014), Kenya

Publication on devolved climate finance in northern Tanzania:

Mainstreaming climate change adaptation in drylands development planning in Tanzania, Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (2013), Tanzania Natural Resource Forum